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The simplest infrastructure mode network contains one or more access points and some number of client devices More complex configurations require other wireless devices In this chapter, you will learn about the most important infrastructure devices, including
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Access points Wireless routers Wireless bridges Wireless repeaters Wireless controllers/switches Wireless media gateways Power over Ethernet devices
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A brief overview of enterprise-class wireless devices is also provided Although the CWTS exam does not cover these devices and they will not be discussed in detail here, it is important that you know they are available and where you get more information about enterprise-class hardware when you need it Finally, you will learn about antennas, including the basic functions of an antenna in a wireless network, the various types and uses of antennas, and strategies for determining the best location for antennas in different installation configurations
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The access point (AP) is the fundamental building block of an infrastructure mode network One or more APs working together can form an entire network infrastructure for inside use with just one connection to the outside world (such as the Internet) if desired Because of stability and throughput issues, you seldom see this kind of implementation Most of the time, you still implement a wired infrastructure, connecting all infrastructure devices such as routers, bridges, switches, and gateways to the wired network You usually connect servers and printers directly to the wired network as well, though wireless print servers are becoming more common in small business and SOHO installations You then use APs to connect
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wireless clients to this wired infrastructure When implementing APs for client access to the infrastructure, you are using the WLAN in the access role The purpose of the WLAN is to provide access for client devices Sometimes APs are referred to as wireless access points (WAPs); however, I recommend avoiding this term, as it s easily confused with the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) used for wireless phones and other mobile devices Access points can be stand-alone devices, or they can be included in other devices The D-Link DSM-G600 is a perfect example of a non-AP wireless device with AP functionality built in This device, shown in Figure 4-1, provides access to one IDE hard drive and two external USB hard drives at the same time I run one on my network with a 400GB IDE hard drive and two 300GB external USB drives providing a terabyte of storage to my network This device includes a built-in AP so that you can access it through the Ethernet port or by using an 80211b/g device Figure 4-2 shows the configuration interface for enabling the wireless radio in either the AP mode or client mode When used in client mode, it allows the storage device to be connected to a WLAN as a client Once connected as a wireless client, other devices may communicate with the storage device over the wireless connection With so many kinds of APs available on the market, things can get confusing very quickly For this reason, I cover their common features and then some of the more advanced features of a select few I ll discuss the different applications or uses of APs, and finally the different configuration interfaces and methods provided
FIGURE 4-1
Wireless network storage device with built-in AP (Photo Courtesy of D-Link Systems, Inc)
Wireless Network Components
FIGURE 4-2
The DSM-G600 AP-enabling interface
Common Features
Most APs share certain features These common features include
Compatibility Upgradeability Security features
Compatibility To increase sales and customer buy-in, most APs are compatible with industry standards You should select APs that are compatible with the wireless standard you need to support Some devices support only 80211b, others support 80211g and 80211b, while others support 80211a and still others support 80211a/ b/g Be cautious, however not all devices advertised as supporting 80211a/b/g can support all three at the same time It is not uncommon for the device to support either 80211a or 80211b/g, but not both concurrently If you need a single device that does support both standards simultaneously, be sure to read the vendor s data sheet closely With the introduction of 80211n, there is yet another letter introduced into the WLAN alphabet soup Most 80211n devices, in the consumer and SOHO market space, will be backwardly compatible with 80211b/g Some are compatible with 80211a as well, but be sure to study the specifications before making a buying decision
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