Wireless Local Area Networking: An Introduction
We received a lot of good feedback to our launch article on NICs so, in answer to some of your common questions:
- Yes, we will test a greater range of cards in future, particularly lower cost variants
- Yes, Linux tests are important
- Yes, the test suite and methodologies will evolve to encompass the needs of those of you working in very active networking environments
- Yes, routers, hubs, and other networking devices are in our sights for future articles
So, please keep the feedback coming, and send your comments to
In the same spirit, we are dipping our toes into the wireless networking world with this article so, we will look at more products, but in this is first article is more of a primer that uses a real world example in the Compex C-Kit 811WL-U. We don't mean to imply that this is the definitive product to start our coverage, or that it stands out for any particular reason. It was a random choice.
A Brief History
The history of wireless networking stretches farther back than you might think. It was over fifty years ago, during World War II, when the United States Army first used radio signals for data transmission. They developed a radio data transmission technology, which was heavily encrypted. It was used quite extensively throughout the campaign with the US and her allies. This inspired a group of researchers in 1971 at the University of Hawaii to create the first packet based radio communications network. ALOHNET, as it was named, was essentially the very first wireless local area network (WLAN). This first WLAN consisted of 7 computers that communicated in a bi-directional star topology (see
While wired LANs have wholly dominated the networking market, the last few years show a rise in wireless networking usage. This can best be seen in academic circles (i.e. University campuses), health-care, manufacturing, and warehousing. All the while, the technology is improving, making it easier and cheaper from companies to go wireless.