- Q: What’s a “hotspot?”
A: Any location within the service area of a wireless network that provides access to the internet — and sometimes the LAN as well. Currently, in internet cafes and other public networks, some hotspots require the client to provide payment before gaining access.
- Q: What do I need to buy?
A: If you’re setting up a small Wi-Fi network, all you need is a broadband ISP; a cable, DSL, or other high-speed modem; one wireless router; and a set of wireless receiving devices for the wireless clients you expect to access the LAN. For larger networks you may need additional Access Points, switches, hubs, and cabling. Keep in mind, too, that the more users that access the internet via wireless or wired connections, the faster and more robust your internet connection needs to be. For a small office, an ordinary cable internet connection may be fine; for larger networks, a T1 line or something similar will provide better throughput. Finally, if you’re planning on opening an internet café or some similar business and want to charge clients for internet access, you will need special software to do that — software that does not come with your router.
- Q: Some wireless routers and wireless network cards use the 802.11b protocol, while some use 802.11g or even 802.11n. Should I care? And which protocol should I use?
A: All wireless networking devices are built around the IEEE 802.11 specification — but yes, there are different flavors. These days, most new wireless networks are using the 802.11n or 802.11g standard, 802.11g employs the 2.4 GHz band for radio communication and delivers close to 25 Mbps throughput under real-life conditions, while 802.11n employs either 2.4 GHz and/or 5 GHz band and delivers close to 120 Mbps. “N” &”G” are also backward-compatible with the original 802.11b standard. 802.11a is supposedly higher-performance, and operates at a higher frequency (5.8 GHz) in order to avoid wireless interference, but most users seldom get better than 15 or 20 Mbps throughput. “N” is more expensive than either “g”, “b” or “a”, and its radius of access around the router is significantly smaller.
- Q: Should I install a Wireless Distribution System (WDS) or a Mesh network?
A: There are basically two kinds of wireless networks: the Wireless Distribution System (WDS), which is pretty much the business standard today, and Mesh Networks, which are a bit more esoteric. If a WDS link fails, that cell is off the network until a technician either fixes the router or creates a different connection. If one of the links in a mesh network fails, the other routers attempt to “self-repair,” that is, to find an alternative path automatically