Local Area Network (LAN)
Both an EtherNet (wire) network and a wireless network are referred to as a Local Area Network (LAN). A wireless network does not require hubs, switchers, or routers to include additional users on the network. Additional wireless users are supported just by being in the immediate physical span of the network.
A wireless LAN (or Wi-Fi network) may be configured in two different ways:
Ad Hoc mode: Allows only for communication between different personal computers and wireless devices, often referred to as peer-to-peer communication. Infrastructure mode: Required for communication with the World Wide Web, a printer, or a wired device of any sort. In either case, this wireless connection requires a wireless network adaptor, often called a WLAN card.
In Infrastructure mode, the WLAN card receives signals and communicates with the Web via a device called an access point, AP, or WAP. Many access points on the market today resemble small radios or cable TV boxes. The access point connects the wireless devices and enables communication between them, serving as the necessary linchpin in the wireless network. Because of this importance, placement of the access point is critical. Devices need the ability to reach and communicate with the access point with little or no obstruction to operate effectively. It is reasonable to expect a network access range of 100 feet (30 meters), but walls or large objects can inhibit wireless communication. Networks should be arranged to avoid physical barriers to the greatest possible extent. Larger homes or locations will require multiple access points.