Wireless Hosts, Access Points, and Wireless Links

802.11 Networks consist of Wireless Hosts, Access Points (APs) and Wireless links


Wireless Hosts

  • Laptops, Tablets, IP Phones, Embedded PIC® MCUs
  • Run Applications
  • May be stationary or mobile

Wireless does not always mean mobility.

802.11 does not provide IP address mobility
Your application must monitor association status and re-associate with the same AP or another if necessary! See section 2.5 Connecting to the Network for more information.

Access Points (APs)

  • Typically connected to wired network
  • Relay - responsible for sending packets between wired network and wireless host(s) in its "area"

In a typical home access network, the AP function is combined with switch and router functionality in a single device, such as the Linksys E1200.

Wireless Links

  • Typically used to connect mobile(s) to access point
  • CSMA/CA Multiple access protocol coordinates link access
  • Various data rates, transmission distance

Wireless Link Characteristics

  • Decreased signal strength: radio signal attenuates as it propagates through matter (path loss)
  • Interference from other sources: standardized wireless network frequencies (e.g., 2.4 GHz) shared by other devices (e.g., phone); devices (motors) interfere as well
  • Multipath propagation: radio signal reflects off objects ground, arriving at destination at slightly different times

These characteristics can lead to a variable latency of data transfer, directly impacting the performance of the application.

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