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Components of WLANs CCNA
Components of WLANs CCNA

Components of WLANs

Components of WLANs
5

Summary

This topic describe the components of a WLAN infrastructure. Start learning CCNA 200-301 for free right now!!

Note: Welcome: This topic is part of Module 12 of the Cisco CCNA 2 course, for a better follow up of the course you can go to the CCNA 2 section to guide you through an order.

Video – WLAN Components

In the previous topic you learned about the benefits of wireless, types of wireless networks, 802.11 standards, and radio frequencies. Here we will learn about WLAN components.

Click Play to view a video about WLAN components.

Wireless NICs

Wireless deployments require a minimum of two devices that have a radio transmitter and a radio receiver tuned to the same radio frequencies:

  • End devices with wireless NICs
  • A network device, such as a wireless router or wireless AP

To communicate wirelessly, laptops, tablets, smart phones, and even the latest automobiles include integrated wireless NICs that incorporate a radio transmitter/receiver. However, if a device does not have an integrated wireless NIC, then a USB wireless adapter can be used, as shown in the figure.

Note: Many wireless devices you are familiar with do not have visible antennas. They are embedded inside smartphones, laptops, and wireless home routers.

USB Wireless Adapter

USB Wireless Adapter
USB Wireless Adapter

Wireless Home Router

The type of infrastructure device that an end device associates and authenticates with varies based on the size and requirement of the WLAN.

For example, a home user typically interconnects wireless devices using a small, wireless router, as shown in the figure. The wireless router serves as an:

  • Access point – This provides 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless access.
  • Switch – This provides a four-port, full-duplex, 10/100/1000 Ethernet switch to interconnect wired devices.
  • Router – This provides a default gateway for connecting to other network infrastructures, such as the internet.
Wireless Home Router
Wireless Home Router

A wireless router is commonly implemented as a small business or residential wireless access device. The wireless router advertises its wireless services by sending beacons containing its shared service set identifier (SSID). Devices wirelessly discover the SSID and attempt to associate and authenticate with it to access the local network and internet.

Most wireless routers also provide advanced features, such as high-speed access, support for video streaming, IPv6 addressing, quality of service (QoS), configuration utilities, and USB ports to connect printers or portable drives.

Additionally, home users who want to extend their network services can implement Wi-Fi range extenders. A device can connect wirelessly to the extender, which boosts its communications to be repeated to the wireless router.

Wireless Access Points

While range extenders are easy to set up and configure, the best solution would be to install another wireless access point to provide dedicated wireless access to the user devices. Wireless clients use their wireless NIC to discover nearby APs advertising their SSID. Clients then attempt to associate and authenticate with an AP. After being authenticated, wireless users have access to network resources. The Cisco Meraki Go APs are shown in the figure.

Wireless Access Points
Wireless Access Points

AP Categories

APs can be categorized as either autonomous APs or controller-based APs.

Click each button for a topology and explanation of each type.

These are standalone devices configured using a command line interface or a GUI, as shown in the figure. Autonomous APs are useful in situations where only a couple of APs are required in the organization. A home router is an example of an autonomous AP because the entire AP configuration resides on the device. If the wireless demands increase, more APs would be required. Each AP would operate independent of other APs and each AP would require manual configuration and management. This would become overwhelming if many APs were needed.

Autonomous APs
Autonomous APs

These devices require no initial configuration and are often called lightweight APs (LAPs). LAPs use the Lightweight Access Point Protocol (LWAPP) to communicate with a WLAN controller (WLC), as shown in the next figure. Controller-based APs are useful in situations where many APs are required in the network. As more APs are added, each AP is automatically configured and managed by the WLC.

Notice in the figure that the WLC has four ports connected to the switching infrastructure. These four ports are configured as a link aggregation group (LAG) to bundle them together. Much like how EtherChannel operates, LAG provides redundancy and load-balancing. All the ports on the switch that are connected to the WLC need to be trunking and configured with EtherChannel on. However, LAG does not operate exactly like EtherChannel. The WLC does not support Port Aggregation Protocol (PaGP) or Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP).

Controller-based APs
Controller-based APs

Wireless Antennas

Most business class APs require external antennas to make them fully functioning units.

Click each antenna for more information.

Omnidirectional antennas such as the one shown in the figure provide 360-degree coverage and are ideal in houses, open office areas, conference rooms, and outside areas.

Omnidirectional Antennas
Omnidirectional Antennas

Directional antennas focus the radio signal in a given direction. This enhances the signal to and from the AP in the direction the antenna is pointing This provides a stronger signal strength in one direction and reduced signal strength in all other directions. Examples of directional Wi-Fi antennas include Yagi and parabolic dish antennas.

Directional Antennas
Directional Antennas

Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) uses multiple antennas to increase available bandwidth for IEEE 802.11n/ac/ax wireless networks. Up to eight transmit and receive antennas can be used to increase throughput.

MIMO Antennas
MIMO Antennas

Glossary: If you have doubts about any special term, you can consult this computer network dictionary.

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