by January 6, 2004 0 comments

Every organization would have a different answer to the above questions. A small organization might want to save the cost of structured cabling by providing every one wireless access to the network. Another company having a strong workforce of mobile users may feel that their productivity would increase significantly if they’re given wireless access to the network. Yet another may have a compelling need to Wi-Fi enable only its conference rooms. Once you’ve done that, work out a plan of action for the deployment. Our cover story this time is to help you deploy your Wireless LAN. 

How to Build a Wireless Network
When designing a wireless network, you need to strike a balance between coverage and bandwidth per user
Set up a simple wireless network
You don’t have to worry too much about the RF coverage and bandwidth availability. All you need is one or two APs/routers and wireless cards for the clients 
Securing a Wireless Network
Wi-Fi networks are considered to be insecure, but there are ways to make it difficult to break into
How To Secure Your Wi-Fi LAN
Securing a Wi-Fi network with PEAP, 802.1x and RADIUS protocols using Windows 2003 server

Setting up a wireless network for an organization isn’t just a matter of placing a few access points across the workplace and providing Wi-Fi cards to all clients. There are lots of issues that must be considered when designing a wireless network. Just like in structured cabling, designing a wireless network starts by identifying the applications you’ll be using it for. However unlike structured cabling where you have a variety of cables to choose from based on your throughput requirement, wireless networks don’t offer you that luxury. You only have products based on either 802.11b or 802.11g standards, which offer a maximum theoretical throughput of 11 and 54 Mbps respectively. Another standard, 802.11a is also available, but in India, it’s primarily meant for defense establishments.

While in structured cabling, you can opt for a shared or switched network, a Wi-Fi network is primarily shared, ie the 11 or54 Mbps bandwidth will be shared by all the users. Therefore, the number of users per access point is important in determining the throughputs you’ll get. Another important performance factor is the coverage or span of a wireless network. That’s because the signal weakens as you move further away from the access point. This can in turn affect the throughput you get. Another issue to consider in performance is that 11 and 54 Mbps are only theoretical bandwidth limits. The actual bandwidth you get is lower due to RF losses.

A wireless network is more vulnerable to attack than a wired network, so security is a critical element of WLAN designing. Options start from using WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), to using authentication services like a RADIUS server, to providing access only through a VPN, or restricting access based on MAC address, etc.

In the pages to follow, you’ll find all the information you need to design and deploy a wireless LAN. 

Anil Chopra

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