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Network Terminology Glossary and Wifi Terms
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20/40 MHz channel operation
A feature that enables Wifi CERTIFIED n devices that transmit 40 MHz channels in the 2.4 GHz frequency band to sense other wireless networking devices in the channel and coordinate a switch to the default mode of 20 MHz channels.

The first-generation of mobile telephony which brings analog only radio transmissions for mobile phones, not capable of data transer beyond basic fax transmissions and the like.

The second-generation of mobile telephony which brings basic digital radio transmissions to mobile phones at an estimated maximum speed of transmission at a meer 153.6 kilobits per second. This protocol allowed for larger data packes such as text messages and emails.

The third-generation of mobile telephony which brings broadband access to mobile phones at an estimated 2 megabits per second for stationary and slow moving users and 384 kilobits per second for fast moving users in vehicles.

The fourth-generation of mobile telephony which broadband access to mobile phones at an estimated 1 gigabits (1000 megabits) per second for stationary and slow moving users and 100 megabits per second for fast moving users in vehicles.

40 MHz channel operation
A mode of operation in which two "channels," or paths on which data can travel, are combined to increase performance in some environments. In the 2.4 GHz frequency band, Wifi CERTIFIED n devices are configured to operate using 20 MHz channels by default, and must employ coexistence mechanisms to help ensure that the device defaults to 20 MHz operation when sharing the frequency with other Wifi networks. In the 5 GHz frequency band, interference is not an issue, so coexistence mechanisms are not required.

An IEEE standard for a wireless network that operates at 5 GHz with data rates up to 54Mbps.

An IEEE standard for a wireless network that operates at 2.4 GHz with data rates up to 11Mbps.

An IEEE specification that allows for configuration changes at the Media Access Control layer (MAC layer) level to comply with the rules of the country in which the network is to be used.

An IEEE standard that adds Quality of Service (QoS) features and multimedia support to the existing 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a wireless networks.

An IEEE standard for a wireless network that operates at 2.4 GHz Wifi with data rates up to 54Mbps.

802.11h supports Dynamic Frequency Selection(DFS) and Transmit Power Control(TPC) requirements to ensure coexistence between Wifi and other types of radio frequency devices in the 5 GHz band.

An IEEE standard specifying security mechanisms for 802.11 networks. 802.11i makes use of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) block cipher. The standard also includes improvements in key management, user authentication through 802.1X and data integrity of headers.

An IEEE specification for wireless networks that incorporates Japanese regulation requirements concerning wireless transmitter output power, operational modes, channel arrangements and spurious emission levels.

The most current generation of Wifi technology. 802.11n supports Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology devices, using multiple receivers and multiple transmitters in both the client and access point to achieve improved performance. devices desgnated as Wifi CERTIFIED n can operate in either 2.4 or 5 GHz frequency bands, and are backward compatible with 802.11 a/b/g networks. 802.11n technology can deliver data rates up to 600 Mbps.

A standard for port based authentication, first used in wired networks, that was adapted for use in enterprise WLANs to address security flaws in WEP, the original security specification for 802.11 networks. 802.1X provides a framework for authenticating users and controlling their access to a protected network and dynamic encryption keys to protect data privacy.

The standard defining wired Ethernet networks.

Ad-Hoc mode
A term used to describe one type of Wifi device-to-device network.

Advanced Encryption Standard. The preferred standard for the encryption of commercial and government data using a symmetric block data encryption technique. It is used in the implementation of WPA2.

Techniques that make the transmission of data more efficient in Wifi networks.

Access point. A device which serves as a central wireless connection point for a Wifi network.

Describes the establishment and maintenance of the wireless link between devices. (If security is enabled, the devices cannot do anything but exchange security credentials with this link).

The process that occurs after association to verify the identity of the wireless device or end user and allow access to the network.

The central part of a large network that links two or more sub-networks. The backbone is the primary data transmission path on large networks such as those of enterprises and service providers. A backbone can be wireless or wired.

Bits per second. A measure of data transmission speed across a network or communications channel; bps is the number of bits that can be sent or received per second. It measures the speed at which data is communicated and should not be-but often is-confused with bytes per second (Bps, in this reference the B is capitalized while in bps lower case is used). While "bits" is a measure of transmission speed, "bytes" is a measure of storage capacity.

A wireless device that connects multiple networks together.

A comparatively fast Internet connection possessing sufficient bandwidth to accommodate multiple voice, data and video channels simultaneously. Cable, DSL and satellite are all considered to be broadband channels; they provide much greater speed than dial-up Internet access over telephone wires.

Broadband modem
A device that connects a local computer or network to a high-speed Internet service, such as DSL or Cable Internet.

Basic Service Set Identifier. A unique address that identifies the access point/hub that creates the wireless network.

A sort of pathway within the radio spectrum that devices on wireless networks use to transmit data. Changing the channel on the access point/hub can help reduce interference.

Channel bonding
Used for 2.4 GHz transmissions, this is the term describing the usage of two channels at the same time for the purpose of increasing data rates. This is not needed for 5 GHz transmissions.

The device connecting to the network by the user. Examples are laptops, computers and smarphones.

Collision avoidance
A means of testing wireless and ethernet adapters without causing data collisions.

Concurrent operation
Wireless Access Pointsthat can transmit both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands simultaneously, also known as "simultaneous dual-band".

Crossover cable
A twisted-pair cable used to network two computers without use of a hub. Instead of traveling in direct parallel paths between plugs reversing the sending and receiving wire pairs on each end. Crossover cables may be required to connect a cable or DSL modem to a wireless router or access point.

Data rate
The rate in which data can be transfered at any given moment to and from a device. Most times, the incoming and outgoing data transfer rates effect eachother adversely. For example, if you are uploading a video while loading a webpage, the qwebpage will load slower than usual due to the upload usage. 4G service will improve this ratio with higher data rate capabilities.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. A protocol for dynamically assigning IP addresses from a pre-defined list to nodes on a network. When they log on, network nodes automatically receive an IP address from a pool of addresses served by a DHCP. The DHCP server provides (or leases) an IP address (to a client for a specific period of time. The client will automatically request a renewal of the lease when the lease is about to run out. If a lease renewal is not requested and it expires, the address is returned to the pool of available IP addresses. Using DHCP to manage IP addresses simplifies client configuration and efficiently utilizes IP addresses.

A connection to a remote network, or the Internet, using a standard modem and telephone connection, or Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).

Digital home
A name used to refer to the trend of networked consumer electronics found in a home. Digital home devices communicate with each other and often connect to a central library of movies, photos, or music. Digital home devices range from televisions to set top boxes, notebook computers to audio systems, cameras to digital photo frames and much more. Wifi is a key technology for connecting the Digital Home.

Diversity antenna
An antenna system that uses multiple antennas to reduce interference and maximize reception and transmission quality.

Designates a product that can communicate on a wireless network in either the 2.4MHz or 5MHz frequency bands. Dual-band Wifi devices can offer either "selectable" or "concurrent" operation. For selectable dual-band devices, the user must select one of the frequency bands. Concurrent devices operate in both 2.4 and 5 GHz at the same time.

Extensible Authentication Protocol. A protocol that provides an authentication framework for both wireless and wired Ethernet enterprise networks. It is typically used with a RADIUS server to authenticate users on large networks. EAP protocol types are used in the 802.1X-based authentication in WPA-Enterprise and WPA2-Enterprise.

Authentication and Key Agreement. Enables handoff between 3G cellular and Wifi networks using a single user identifier.

Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling. Uses multiple secured tunnels during authentication.

Specifies a mechanism for mutual authentication and session key agreement using the GSM-SIM and used in GSM-based mobile phone networks.

Specifies a mechanism for mutual authentication and session key agreement using the GSM-SIM and used in GSM-based mobile phone networks.

Specifies a mechanism for mutual authentication and session key agreement using the GSM-SIM and used in GSM-based mobile phone networks.

Specifies a mechanism for mutual authentication and session key agreement using the GSM-SIM and used in GSM-based mobile phone networks.

Extensible Authentication Protocol Transport Layer Security

EAP-Tunneled TLS/Microsoft Challenge Authentication Handshake Protocol. Securely tunnels clients authentication within TLS records

Data converted into a form that cannot be easily understood by unauthorized persons. Encrypted data is often used by websites for secure payment options, and by communications systems such as those used by safety officers for communicating sensitive information. Wifi security, known as WPA2, uses encryption to help protect transmitted data.

Extended Service Set Identifier. A name used to identify a wireless network.

FIPS 140-2
The Federal Information Processing Standard that defines the requirements of security technologies used in the handling and processing of information within government agencies.

A system of software and/or hardware that resides between two networks to prevent access by unauthorized users. The most common use of a firewall is to provide security between a local network and the Internet. Firewalls can make a network appear invisible to the Internet and can block unauthorized and unwanted users from accessing files and systems on the network. Hardware and software firewalls monitor and control the flow of data in and out of computers in both wired and wireless enterprise, business and home networks. They can be set to intercept, analyze and stop a wide range of Internet intruders and hackers.

Software routines that are embedded as read-only memory (ROM) in a computer chip or hardware device to prevent modification of the routines. Unlike random access memory (RAM), read-only memory stays intact in the absence of electrical power. Startup routines and low-level input/output instructions are stored in firmware.

Frequency band
Wifi 802.11n operates at two frequencies: 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. Only devices which operate in the same frequency band can communicate with one another. Wifi CERTIFIED n devices may support one or both of these frequency bands.

In the wireless world, a gateway is an access point with additional software capabilities such as providing NAT and DHCP. Gateways may also provide VPN support, roaming, firewalls, various levels of security, etc.

A location where users can access the Internet using Wifi laptops and other Wifi enabled devices. Access may be provided free or for a fee. Hotspots are often found at coffee shops, hotels, airport lounges, train stations, convention centers, gas stations, truck stops and other public meeting areas. Corporations and campuses often offer it to visitors and guests. Hotspot service is sometimes available aboard planes, trains and boats.

Hertz. The international unit for measuring frequency equivalent to the older unit of cycles per second. One megahertz (MHz) is one million hertz. One gigahertz (GHz) is one billion hertz. The standard US electrical power frequency is 60 Hz; 802.11a devices operate in the 5 GHz band; 802.11b and g devices operate in the 2.4 GHz band.

Input/Output. The term used to describe any operation that transfers data to or from a computer.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A global technical professional society and standards-setting organization serving the public interest and its members in electrical, electronics, computer, information and other technologies.

IEEE 802.11
The family of specifications developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 committee which establishes standards for wireless Ethernet networks. 802.11 standards define the over-the-air interface between wireless clients and a base station, or access point that is physically connected to the wired network.

Infrastructure mode
Symbolizes the connection of multiple clients to a main access point.

Internet appliance
A device that can access a network such as a personal computer, server or mobile device.

Intrusion detection
A packet snifferthat monitors data transmission on a network and analyzes teh data to warn against intrustion onto said network.

Internet Protocol; The basic communications protocol of the Internet.

IP (Internet Protocol) telephony
A protocol allowing the transmission of data packets over telecommunication lines.

IP address
Internet Protocol address; a virtual address of a device connected to a network via a LAN or WAN.

IP telephony
A term symbolizing the transfer of data over telecommunications lines instead of just audial transmisions.

Local Area Network; a network not connected to the world wide web.

Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol-A proprietary Cisco protocol used for 802.1X authentication on wireless LANs (WLANs).

MAC address
Media Access Control address. A unique hardware number that identifies each device on a network. A device can be a computer, printer, etc.

Metropolitan Area Network. A data network, typically operated by a municipality or communications carrier that provides high-speed service within a geographical area such as a college campus, town or city. A MAN is larger than a Local Area Network (LAN) but smaller than a Wide Area Network (WAN).

Multiple-Input/Multiple-Output. An advanced signal processing technology that uses multiple receivers and multiple transmitters in both the client and access point to improve throughput and range. For most Wifi CERTIFIED n devices, MIMO is the foundation of performance.

Network name
A name used to identify a wireless network. (See ESSID, SSID)

Network Interface Card. A wireless or wired PC adapter card that allows the client computer to utilize network resources. Most office wired NICs operate at 100 Mbps. Wireless NICs operate at data rates defined by 802.11 standards.

A unit of information transmitted from one device to another on a network. A packet typically contains a header with addressing information, data, and a checksum to insure data integrity.

Pass phrase
A password which is used by Wifi Protected Access to secure wireless networks.

Peer-to-peer network
A wireless or wired computer network that has no server or central hub or router. All the networked PCs are equally able to act as a network server or client, and each client computer can talk to all the other wireless computers without having to go through an access point or hub. However, since there is no central base station to monitor traffic or provide Internet access, the various signals can collide with each other, reducing overall performance.

How fast data transmits over a network.

Features that provide for automatic configuration of add-ons and peripheral devices such as wireless PC Cards, printers, scanners and multimedia devices.

Print server
A network device, often a computer, that connects to at least one printer, allowing it to be shared among computers on a network.

Proxy server
A technique used in larger companies and organizations to improve network operations and security. The proxy server receives requests intended for another server to prevent direct communication between two or more networks. The proxy server forwards allowable data requests to remote servers and/or responds to data requests directly from stored remote server data.

Quality of Service; prioritizes traffic so that time critical data processes first.

The effective distance of for a wireless transmission over a specified distance.

A device that relays a signal to a point farther than the source device was designed to transmit. It is a wireless extension cord for wireless signals.

Residential gateway
A device that allows devices or a single device to access the WAN.

If your mobile device is used outside of your covered service area, you are charged a premium for service.

An unauthorized access point installed on a company's WLAN, typically by a user. Rogue access points present security risks. They rarely conform to the organization's security policies and, typically, no security at all is enabled on them. Rogues present open, insecure interfaces to the company's network.

A wireless router is device that accepts connections from wireless devices to a network and includes a network firewall for security, and provides local network addresses.

Security supplicant
Client software that coordinates authentication and session key creation.

A computer that provides resources or services to other computers and devices on a network. Types of servers can include print servers, Internet servers, mail servers, and DHCP servers. A server can also be combined with a hub or router.

Simultaneous dual-band
Wifi Access Points with concurrent operation can transmit on both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands at the same time. Sometimes referred to as concurrent operation or concurrent dual-band.

Transmissions being sent via a single radio frequency band, such as 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

A data transmission in a wireless network using only a single pathway for incoming and outgoing transmissions.

A software program that captures, logs and analyzes data transfered on a network for security purposes and diagnostics purposes by network technicians and for privacy violation purposes by phreaks and phishers (which is highly illegal).

Small office/Home office; A home or office containing less than 11 devices connected to a LAN.

Spatial stream
A data transmission in a wireless network. Multiple Sparta streams are combined by MIMO to increase data transfer capacity.

A 32 cahracter name of a network to allow a device to be uniquely identified over other network devices.

SSL-Secured Sockets Layer; a protocol used to secure and excrypt data transmissions.

Is a hub that prevents data collisions and forwards packets based on their source and destination port only. Does not offer NAT filtering or routing capabilities.

Transmission Control Protocol. The Transport level protocol used with the Internet Protocol (IP) to route data across the Internet.

The underlying technology of Internet communications. While IP handles the actual delivery of data, TCP tracks the data packets to efficiently route a message through the Internet. Every computer in a TCP/IP network has its own IP address that is either dynamically assigned at startup

Usually measured in bps, Kbps, Mbps or Gbps, throughput is the amount of data that can be sent from one location to another in a specific amount of time.

Transport Layer Security. A newer version of the SSL protocol, It supports more cryptographic algorithms than SSL. TLS is designed to authenticate and encrypt data communications, preventing eavesdropping, message forgery and interference.

Voice over Wifi
VoIP services delivered over Wifi networks. Sometimes referred to as wireless voice over IP.

Voice over Internet Protocol. A technology for transmitting ordinary telephone calls over the Internet using packet-based networks instead of standard public switched telephone networks or Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).

Virtual Private Network. A network layer encryption scheme that allows remote clients to securely connect to their corporate networks using the Internet. Most major corporations today use VPN to protect their remote-access workers and their connections. It works by creating a secure virtual "tunnel" from the end-user's computer through the end-user's access point or gateway, through the Internet, all the way to the corporation's servers and systems. It also works for wireless networks and can effectively protect transmissions from Wifi equipped computers to corporate servers and systems.

Wide Area Network (WLAN); A network stretching across entire regions such as a phone netwrok or cable nwtwork. The world wide web is a network of WANs.

An older and very weak security protocol. Never transmit sensitive data over WEP.

This means a product offers all 802.11n features and is certified as such.

A cetification stating that a device meets all requirements of a specification such as Wifi Certified n.

Wireless n
This means a product offers some 802.11n features but not enough to be Wifi Certified n.

Allows users to easily identify public hotspot locations that have Wifi connectivity. Common places being coffee shops, hotels and bookstores.

Wireless network
Devices connected to a network using a centralized wireless access point.

Wireless Local Area Network. A type of local-area network in which data is sent and received via high-frequency radio waves rather than cables or wires.

Wireless Metropolitan Area Network-A wireless data network that is comparable to a cell phone network in that users throughout a metropolitan area can freely access the Internet. WiMAX technology provides the basis of WMAN networks.
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