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Frequently Asked Questions---Wireless
  • Wireless Network Standard
    Wireless networking comes in three major standards: 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g. Each of these standards has benefits and disadvantages. When selecting a networking standard you should carefully consider your needs in terms of range, building layout, and budget.

    802.11b The standard wireless type is 802.11b. It has a maximum speed of 11 Mbps, with a maximum operating range of 300 ft. indoors and 500 ft. in an open area. The distance from the access point directly determines the speed of the connection. At 50 feet the speed is normally 11 Mbps. At ranges of 200-400 feet speed may fall to 1 Mbps or lower which can cause signals to drop off at random times, as well as the connection being slow. 802.11b operates on the popular 2.4 GHz frequency band, which can cause problems with cordless phones and microwave ovens on rare occasions.

    802.11a In comparison to 802.11b, 802.11a is faster, however equipment using this standard is often more expensive. It provides a significant increase in speed (up to 54 Mbps) but with a shorter operating range. At distances over 100 feet the speed decreases, but at close ranges, speed will normally be between 22-40 Mbps. This equipment utilizes the 5 GHz range, which means more reliability, especially if you have other wireless networks in the same area.

    802.11g A new line of products from wireless manufacturers combines the concepts of both 802.11a and 802.11b. Known as “G” technology (802.11g), it features the speed of 802.11a equipment, but is completely backward compatible with existing 802.11b networks. It is slightly cheaper than the 802.11a technology, but still uses the 2.4 GHz band, so it can still cause problems with other devices. It bridges the gap between 802.11a and b, while providing an easy upgrade path for an existing “b” network. The range is about the same as 802.11b. This standard is not compatible with 802.11a

  • What is an Access point?
    An access point is a single piece of equipment that allows wireless users access to the wireless network.

  • What do I need if I want to build a wireless Network?

    • A. Wireless networking for two systems(Peer to Peer)
      With only two computers, an Access Point is not needed. All that you need is a wireless adapter for each computer. This type of set-up is called an Ad-Hoc network, and is easily configured.

    • B. If your wireless networking needs include more than two computers

      The physical dimensions of the area and the number of computers that need network access determine the type of wireless equipment needed. If all of the computers are in a small area, say an office no more than 200-250 square feet, with few walls, all that is needed are: (1) wireless network adapter per computer and (1) wireless access point (or router if a Broadband connection needs to be shared). To setup the network, install the wireless network adapters into each computer and plug in the wireless AP or Router at a central location. The diagram below explains this concept in more detail:

      Remarks: The NICs can be either USB (external), PCI (internal), or, in the case of a laptop computer, PCMCIA. USB wireless NICs are the more versatile type in this situation as their antenna can be positioned away from any enclosure provided by the PC itself or the desk. The performance of USB NICs and PCI are roughly identical, however in most situations the USB one is going to have a better line of sight with the Access Point or router. Better line of sight = higher speed.

  • What is SSID?

    SSID, or Service Set Identifier, is the workgroup name of your Wireless Network. All devices (Access Points, Wireless Routers, and Wireless Network Adapters) must all have the same SSID to communicate on the Wireless Network.

  • What is WEP?

    WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. It is based on the IEEE 802.11 standard and uses the RC4 encryption algorithm. Enabling WEP allows you to increase security by encrypting data being transferred over your wireless network. When WEP encryption is enabled, there are two options*: 64-bit and 128-bit. 64-bit is the same as 40-bit WEP. The lower level of WEP encryption uses a 40-bit (10 character) "secret key" (set by the user), and a 24-bit "initialization vector" (not under user control). So lower level 40 and 64 bit WEP cards are equivalent in encryption strength and compatibility.

  • How many Users can one 802.11b Access point (WER401 and Hurricane 9000W) support ?

    It can support up to 32 wireless users.

  • How to protect my Wireless Network to prevent unauthorized users from accessing?
    WEP is a wireless security protocol that helps protect your information by using a security setting (called a WEP key) to encode, or encrypt, all network traffic before transmitting it over the airwaves.

  • How to get the best performance for wireless network?
    Step 1: Find a suitable area for the Access Point

    To achieve the best signal with the least interference from furniture and electrical devices keep the Access point no higher or lower then eye-level. Place the Access Point on either a shelf will do nicely, or mount it on the wall.

    Warning: Never put an access point inside an enclosed space. It will greatly degrade signal strength and may cause the AP to heat up. Keep it in an open area, if at all possible.

    Step 2: Install the wireless network adapters Follow the installation instructions for the wireless adapters. Installation is generally simple especially when using the same manufacturer for all wireless network equipment.

    Step 3: Test the signal and reposition the AP as needed Each adapter should be connected to the access point as soon as the installation is finished (this may require a restart of the computer). Most wireless manufacturers will include a small signal meter with their adapters. Go to each system and spend a few minutes watching the meter to make sure the signal is steady and high. If it tends to fluctuate or is very low, then the access point may need to be moved closer. Sometimes a few inches make a big difference. Get your access point at the optimum location where you get the best signal quality and strength for all computers.

  • Useful Tips to Help You Get the Best Performance
    1. The best place to put your Wireless Router is as close to the center of the area that you want to cover.
    2. The worst place to be (weakest signal) is directly under a Wireless Router.
    3. You'll probably do best if you orient your Wireless Router's antenna(s) vertically.
    4. Keep antenna(s) away from large metal objects like filing cabinets and away from operating microwave ovens or 2.4GHz cordless phones. Also watch out for large containers of water? Fish tanks or water heaters for example.
    5. If you're having trouble with getting a strong signal with your laptop, try moving so that the laptop's wireless card antenna is pointing toward the Wireless Router.
    6. Avoid antenna placement close to an outside wall (unless outside is where you want to be). Also, if you want to connect while you're outside, place the Wireless Router near a window.


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