A wireless network (Also wireless LAN or WLAN) is a computer network operating by certain frequencies of radio waves. When installed correctly, no difference from a normal wired network should be obvious (Other than the obvious lack of cables).
These are generally used in a home environment for two main reasons: To share printers between them and to share an Internet connection. Normally, networks are created by hooking computers together with network cables and a router (or hub/switch). Wireless networks use various frequency radio waves to do this.
Common reasons for using a wireless network (in preference to a wired one)
- The most obvious and commonly advertised difference in a wireless network is the lack of network cabling.
- This is especially useful if the network is a new one being planned and/or where the lengths of cabling would be ridiculously long.
- If the devices on the network are movable or move frequently, the lack of a network cable may be useful.
- Current standards of wireless networks have lower bandwidths (Speeds) than wired networks. This may be improved in future standards. Note, however, that common home network usage (Viewing webpages, Emailing, printing, etc) will rarely use the maximum bandwidth of any network. Unless you do a lot of intensive file sharing (such as video sharing), this won't be a problem.
- If improperly or poorly set up, anyone within receiving range can do anything on your network without you knowing.
- Since radio waves are an electromagnetic emission, they decrease in strength over distance. If you have a widely scattered network, those on at the very edge of the signal's range may experience very poor speed and reliability. This can be remedied.