What Is WLAN (Wireless Local-Area Network)?

Technology has advanced from connecting computers through wires to the point where we can now leverage the convenience of wireless connections. We can credit WLAN, or Wireless Local-Area Network, for this technological evolution. Let’s explore what WLAN is and how it works to seamlessly connect your devices sans wires.

What is WLAN?

Wireless Local-Area Network, also known as WLAN, Wireless LAN, or LAWN, is a type of Local-Area Network that connects two or more devices over wireless communication. WLAN uses high-frequency radio waves and operates within a limited range, such as in homes, offices, schools, and establishments. Wi-Fi is a type of WLAN technology that people and organizations commonly use.

How does WLAN work?

The easiest way to demonstrate how WLAN works is through one of its most commonly used implementations: Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is a type of Wireless Local-Area Network based on the IEEE 802.11 standards. This standard defines a set of protocols for how devices format data packets, transmit them over radio waves at specific frequencies (like 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), and receive them on the network.

The process starts with your device. Say you’re browsing a webpage. The data from the webpage are broken down into smaller pieces called data packets. These data packets are then labeled with information specifying where they’re going and where they came from. This information is included in a header attached to each data packet. Your device would now transform these data packets into radio signals, which would then be picked up by your Wi-Fi router’s access points.

An access point acts as a central receiver and sorter, deciphering the packets’ destinations. If the packet is meant for another device on the same network, the access point transmits it directly. If it’s for the internet, the access point acts as a bridge, sending the packet through a wired network before it reaches your device. This two-way flow allows your device to send and receive information wirelessly.

WLAN vs LAN

WLAN and LAN are computer networks that interconnect devices within a limited range. However, there are key differences between these two. WLAN connects devices wirelessly through radio waves. Because of its method of transmission, WLAN is more favorable for mobility and cost.

Meanwhile, a LAN, or Local-Area Network, is a computer network that interconnects devices using physical cables or ethernets. While LAN is not preferred due to its limitations concerning mobility, many consider it faster and more secure due to the closed nature of the wired connection.

WLAN: a key player in wireless connection

As the name implies, a wireless local-area network (WLAN) is a type of computer network that introduced people and organizations to freedom from cables. WLAN revolutionizes how we access information, share resources, or even stay connected by transmitting radio waves from our devices. It has contributed to the advancement of computer networking and the convenience of device communications.

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