How Do I Deploy a Wireless LAN?
When it comes to implementing a new wireless LAN, pre-deployment planning can make a huge difference in terms of ensuring the optimal speed, scalability, and security of your wireless network.
Wireless networks are relatively easy to implement these days, especially when compared to the prospect of having to route wires when deploying a new wired network or overhauling an existing one. At the same time, some predeployment planning can make a huge difference in terms of ensuring the optimal speed, scalability, and security of your wireless LAN. Let's take a look at some of the key issues to address prior to deploying a wireless network that can have a significant impact on the overall ROI for your home or business.
Wireless LAN Standards
The first step in planning a wireless LAN deployment should be to decide on your wireless networking technology standard. Keep in mind that the standard you ultimately select will need to accommodate your network access points and routers as well as the entire collection of wireless network interface cards (NICs) for your computers and other network resources. The main wireless standards in use today are 802.11a, which has a theoretical maximum speed of 11 Mbps; 802.11b, which maxes out at 54 Mbps; 802.11g, which also maxes out at 54 Mbps; and 802.11n, which has a theoretical maximum speed of 250 Mbps. Newer standards like 802.11n can also work with older standards but do so with a considerable negative impact on wireless network performance.
Wireless Network Speeds
Having to accommodate multiple standards due to older or incompatible routers and NICs is just one of several factors that can slow down a wireless LAN. Another is the distance you anticipate your wireless computers and resources will be from your access points and routers. Radio frequency (RF) interference is another factor that can significantly impact your wireless network's speed.
Wireless networks that operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency band (802.11b and 802.11g) will be working in the same frequency range as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless video cameras, microwave ovens and baby monitors, all of which can cause significant interference with your wireless network and degraded performance as a result. Wireless LANs that operate in the 5 GHz frequency band (802.11a and 802.11n, which utilizes both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies) may find RF interference in the form of newer cordless phones and other devices.
Wireless Network Security
Security is critical for your wireless network, even more so in some respects than with a wired network due to the threat of Wi-Fi eavesdroppers and hackers. Whether your wireless LAN will be deployed in your home or business, an integrated security policy that accommodates all of your users, computers and data on both the wireless and wired networks should be planned and implemented prior to deploying your wireless network. User authentication, proper authorization of access point and network interface cards, data encryption (WEP or WPA/WPA2), personal firewalls on computers and other security safeguards all need to be researched and addressed as part of implementing your network security policy.
Deploying a wireless network installation involves selecting the wireless LAN standard that will best meet your networking environment's needs and specifications, properly addressing the potential for interference and other network speed considerations, and implementing a comprehensive network security policy.
Congratulations! You now have a better understanding of the important factors that need to be addressed prior to deploying your wireless local area network.
Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal is a freelance writer, covering business and Internet technology for more than a decade. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.
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