Basic Wi-Fi FAQ and Tips - Techist - Tech Forum

Go Back   Techist - Tech Forum > Internet > Computer Networking and Internet Hardware > Networking Tips, Tricks & FAQ
Click Here to Login
Closed Thread
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-09-2004, 09:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
Monster Techie
HoLoCroN's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Plant City, FL
Posts: 1,305
Exclamation Basic Wi-Fi FAQ and Tips

As I was browsing around, I noticed we didn't have a dedicated thread on Wireless Networking. (Yet many questions!)

So, I decided to make one, this might prove useful to many of you out there.

Here We go....


What is Wi-Fi???

Short for wireless fidelity and is meant to be used generically when referring of any type of 802.11 network, whether 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, dual-band, etc. The term is created by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an organization made up of leading wireless equipment and software providers with the missions of certifying all 802.11-based products for interoperability and promoting the term Wi-Fi as the global brand name across all markets for any 802.11-based wireless LAN products.

While all 802.11a/b/g products are called Wi-Fi, only products that have passed the Wi-Fi Alliance testing are allowed to refer to their products as "Wi-Fi Certified" (a registered trademark). Products that pass are required to carry an identifying seal on their packaging that states "Wi-Fi Certified" and indicates the radio frequency band used (2.5GHz for 802.11b or 11g, 5GHz for 802.11a) This group was formerly known as the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) but changed its name in October 2002 to better reflect the Wi-Fi brand it wants to build.


What is 802.11a/802.11b/802.11g??

802.11a/b/g, or IEEE 802.11a/b/g, is a standard that has been developed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), . The IEEE is an international organization that develops standards for hundreds of electronic and electrical technologies. The organization uses a series of numbers, like the Dewey Decimal system in libraries, to differentiate between the various technology families.

The 802 committee develops standards for local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs). For example, the 802.3 committee develops standards for Ethernet-based wired networks, the 802.15 group develops standards for personal area networks, and the 802.11 committee develops standards for wireless local area networks (LAN).

802.11 is then further divided: 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, is a standard for wireless LANs operating in the 2.4 GHz spectrum with a bandwidth of 11 Mbps. 802.11a is a different standard for wireless LANs operating in the 5 GHz frequency range with a maximum data rate of 54 Mbps. Another draft standard, 802.11g, is for WLANs operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency but with a maximum data rate of 54 Mbps. Other task groups are working on enhanced security (802.11i), spectrum and power control management (802.11h), quality of service (802.11e), etc.


What is the difference between a Gateway and a WAP (Wireless Access Point)???

There are two types of Wi-Fi wireless base stations: a gateway and an access point. However, the distinctions between the two are not always clear, in part because the functions they perform can overlap. Even more confusing, many wired devices and other home Internet appliances also call themselves gateways.
A wireless gateway is targeted toward a totally wireless home or small-office environment; an access point is targeted toward a more integrated combined Ethernet and wireless environment-usually - larger businesses, campuses, or corporations. Gateways and access points can also differ regarding their capacity to perform security functions, provide firewall protection, and manage network traffic and tasks.
Gateways often include NAT (Network Address Translation) routing and DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) services. These create and provide the individual IP addresses all the wireless (and wired) clients need to function in a network and also enable a single Wi-Fi gateway to simultaneously provide Internet access to numerous users from a single shared Internet connection . Gateways may also include other applications and features such as encryption and security, VPN, firewall, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
An access point does not usually have NAT routing or DHCP; the wired routers in the system provide those network functions. Access points work as merely transparent bridges between wired networks and the various wireless users throughout a facility. Even though access points generally do not provide NAT or DHCP, they usually enable roaming (the ability to move from one access point to another without losing contact with your network), higher levels of security, and a high level of network control and management. Some gateways also provide these services. In fact, by toggling certain functions on and off, many wireless base stations can operate either as a gateway or as an access point. But a gateway is usually the only wireless base station in a small office or home, whereas in a large office or campus there might be hundreds or thousands of access points forming one or multiple overlapping wireless networks.


How do I use my Wi-Fi laptop when I am traveling?

Just find a Wi-Fi network to which you can connect. These networks are becoming common in cities and towns worldwide — Internet cafes and coffee shops are popping up everywhere! — as well as in public areas like airports, hotels and convention centers or anywhere people gather. Some wireless HotSpot networks require you to manually configure your access connection; others work with your Wi-Fi radio to automatically log on. In addition, many large businesses and universities are providing wireless access to visitors and guests at their locations.


Why do I need to know what NAT and DHCP are?

NAT stands for Network Address Translation and enables your Wi-Fi gateway to share a single Internet connection among all the computers in your home or business. DHCP (Direct Host Configuration Protocol) is what enables your network to use TCP/IP to connect the different components. There are various networking protocols.
Most Wi-Fi gateways for homes and small businesses provide both NAT and DHCP. In general, if you are setting up a stand-alone wireless network, you want NAT and DHCP. If you are adding a wireless gateway to an existing wired network, you probably want to turn off the NAT and DHCP functions built into your wireless gateway and have it function as a wireless access point.


What is the range of a wireless network?

Range varies in a Wi-Fi network depending on the type of Wi-Fi radio you have, whether or not you use special antennas, and whether your network is in an open environment or in a building with lots of walls and furniture. The composition of your walls and floors can also have a major impact. Wi-Fi is a very low powered radio signal and does not penetrate metal, water or other dense materials.
A Wi-Fi network generally provides a range of about 75 to 150 feet in a typical home or office. In an open environment like an empty warehouse or outdoors, a Wi-Fi network may provide a range of up to 1,000 feet or more. With the right antennas and optimal placement, a range of up to a mile is possible.
With Wi-Fi technology, a "gradual degradation" in range occurs. This means that, instead of stopping all together, your data transmission rate just becomes slower as you move farther away from the access point. For example, with Wi-Fi 802.11b technology, within 100 feet of the access point, the Wi-Fi radio in your laptop computer will get about 11 Mbps data rate. As you move farther away, that rate will drop down to 5.5 Mbps, then to 2 Mbps and finally to 1 Mbps. Considering that many DSL and cable Internet connections are less than 1 Mbps, this connection speed is still very good. See What Range Can You Expect from Your Wi-Fi Network.


Will my microwave oven or cordless phone interfere with my Wi-Fi network?

Microwave ovens and many cordless phones operate in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, the same radio spectrum used by 802.11b/g Wi-Fi wireless networks. That means they can cause interference — but in most instances this will just slow down the Wi-Fi connection; it won't stop transmission or break the connection.

To reduce interference, you can move a 2.4 GHz cordless phone away from your Wi-Fi equipped computer or base station. Interference usually only happens with older microwave ovens. You can also try changing the channel on which your Wi-Fi network operates . In addition, some manufacturers have developed and implemented special technologies that can minimize interference from cordless phones and ovens. Check with the manufacturer for specific instructions for your equipment.


What is a “Hot Spot”??

A specific geographic location in which an access point provides public wireless broadband network services to mobile visitors through a WLAN. Hotspots are often located in heavily populated places such as airports, train stations, libraries, marinas, conventions centers and hotels. Hotspots typically have a short range of access.


How can I find available Hot Spots????

Though Wi-Fi is designed to work over short distances, folks who live or work adjacent to a Wi-Fi network (or who simply sit in a car near one) may be able to "borrow" access and use the wireless network.
Some Internet users scope out unprotected wireless networks (an activity known as wardriving) just for sport. A few Web sites publish maps that show the locations of open networks, with data provided by users who drive around and collect the information, using GPS-enabled laptops and software such as NetStumbler or Kismet. A search on WiGLE can yield anything from a handful to hundreds of listings of unprotected Wi-Fi networks, depending on the geographic location you search.

There is also a commercial product available to those with some extra money to burn. Using a pricey tool for network administrators called AirMagnet and a Pocket PC handheld, I saw her network identifier, or SSID, the brand of gateway she was using, the channel it was broadcasting on, and the fact that it was unencrypted.

Some of this information was based on data from:

HoLoCroN is offline  
Old 02-08-2005, 04:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
It's all just 1s and 0s
office politics's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: in the lab
Posts: 6,555
Send a message via MSN to office politics

looked for a tutorial, this is the best i could come up with

By Craig Ellison and Daniel S. Evans

There are a few different setup scenarios for wireless home networks, depending on whether you already have a modem and a wired router. In this step-by-step tutorial we'll assume that you already have a broadband connection with a cable or DSL modem but don't yet have a router, and that your computer is currently plugged directly into your modem. We will also assume you want to keep a desktop PC wired to the network and to set up either a notebook or a second desktop PC for wireless access. (It's a good idea to keep one of your PCs wired during configuration, in case security settings are lost in the process and you can't get back on the network.) You'll need to buy a wireless router, a wireless PCI card for your desktop PC, and a wireless PCMCIA card (also known as a PC Card) for your notebook.

1. Connect Your Wireless Router

a. Turn off your cable modem and your wired PC.

b. Unplug the Ethernet cable from your cable modem and plug it into one of the four LAN ports on the back of the wireless router. The other end of the cable should remain connected to your PC.

c. Connect a second Ethernet cable between your modem's Ethernet port and the wireless router's WAN port. (The WAN port is separate from the four grouped LAN ports.)

d. Turn on the modem and wait for the status lights to indicate that it's connected to your service provider. This may take up to a minute.

e. Plug in the router. The status lights will blink as it goes through its own diagnostics; this may also take up to a minute.

f. Boot up your wired PC.

2. Configure Your Router

a. Refer to the router's printed quick-start guide, launch your Web browser, and type in the address indicated in the guide.

b. Follow the on-screen setup wizard, which should guide you step by step through the process.

c. Enable your router's security functions. The options will be WEP and WPA. (See page 88 for more information on enabling WPA.) Both will ask you to enter a key. Depending on your router's manufacturer, you may need to go to Advanced Settings to handle this step and the next two.

d. Change the default administrator's password, which is often known to hackers.

e. Change the SSID—the name you give your wireless network. Again, hackers know many of the default SSIDs and can use them to join your network.

3. Install a Wireless PCI Card in a Desktop PC

a. Refer to the card manufacturer's quick-start guide. If necessary, run the software installation program.

b. Shut down the PC.

c. Remove the cover.

d. Locate an available PCI slot and remove the corresponding slot cover from the back of the PC.

e. Carefully route the antenna through the open slot in the back of the PC, insert the card in the slot, and secure it. Replace the cover.

f. Power up the PC. It should recognize and enable the new hardware.

g. Go to the Control Panel, select Network, select Wireless Networking connection. Click on Properties. Click on Wireless Networking tab. Select the wireless networking name (see step 2e above). Click on Configure. Adjust your security settings to match those on your wireless router.

4. Install a Wireless PC Card in a Notebook PC
Many notebooks have built-in wireless cards. If yours doesn't, follow these instructions.

a. Follow steps "a" and "b" in number 3.

b. Plug your wireless PC Card into an available slot on the side of your notebook.

c. Follow steps "f" and "g" in number 3.

For the price of a new multihundred-disc CD changer, you can stream hundreds or even thousands of CDs wirelessly from your PC to your home audio system, using a digital media hub, also called a digital media receiver, digital media adapter, or entertainment hub. Some such devices can also show digital photos and, in one case, video. Prices range from $100 to $300.
A media hub sits near your audio amplifier. It's easy to set up: You plug it into a set of unused input jacks and control it using a supplied remote, viewing content on your TV set.

The hub looks like a home-networking switch or router and receives wireless Ethernet signals. Client software installed on your PC receives requests and sends out the files via wireless Ethernet, typically still compressed in MP3 or WMA format to save on the network overhead. If you have playlists set up on your PC, the hub can use them. This beats pressing the All Discs–Shuffle button on a CD player.

Most media hubs have wired Ethernet capability as well as wireless. But for the most part, even with 802.11b, there is enough bandwidth and memory buffering to keep the music playing uninterruptedly.


for securing the network goto

office politics is offline  
Old 03-20-2005, 07:03 AM   #3 (permalink)
Newb Techie
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8
Default Gateway?


I have another post on here explaining my current problem. Am I correct that what I have is actually a wireless gateway connected to my wireless router?
I am in France and have a service provider that has placed a square anntenna for lack of a better term on my house which receives the signals, then a hard wire comes of of it and ends in a rj45 connector , which I can put into my laptop LAN slot, and it works very well. Is that actually a gateway, and is a gateway akin to a modem, Is there a way to acess the settings and how would I get the IP address, subnet mask, dns servers, and gateway. In order to make my router work apparently I need all this info. Linksys techs have tried desparately to make the router work but need this info.

I am not sure if you have ever dealt with companies here in France but they are not service oriented and I cannot get any information from the service provider, just a message which says are lines are occupied, call back later , and charges me 50 cents for the priviledge of being hung up on. I have called for 8 days now to no avail. I am hoping for another way.

thanks... Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kbragg is offline  
Old 03-25-2005, 07:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
Wizard Techie
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,190
Send a message via AIM to Him Send a message via Yahoo to Him

A gateway is something that allows two or more disimilar networks to connect. You may have a gateway, you may not. You dont, however, have a gateway set up. I'm not sure what the standard for wireless is over in europe, I knows things are different one way or another. Do you have city wide wireless networks? If you do, that may just be a wireless reciever to get your wireless signal.

Are you using Windows? If so, go Start/Programs/Accessories/Command Prompt and type in IPCONFIG

If you have Windows ME or lower, go to Start/Run and type in IPCFG
Him is offline  
Old 06-22-2005, 02:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
Newb Techie
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 30
Default Wireless Home Network Setup Guide

How to do the wireless home network setup? How to achieve wireless network security? These are common questions from lot of people.
Get your querries solved. I found interesting article on...


VengaBoyz is offline  
Old 01-31-2007, 06:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
Monster Techie
HoLoCroN's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Plant City, FL
Posts: 1,305

With the newer 802.11N standard that is out, look for newer technologies like WPA2 for better encryption/security.

Also the range is much larger, bandwith is higher, and is backwards compatible with 802.11B/G.
HoLoCroN is offline  
Old 04-13-2009, 03:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
Newb Techie
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 6072 Corte Del Cedro Carlsbad, CA 92011
Posts: 6
Default Re: Basic Wi-Fi FAQ and Tips

Good Move ...

drvoip is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:44 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.