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Settings for wireless networking

Special requirements for wireless networking.

Settings for wireless networking
Barrie Sosinsky

Setting up a wireless LAN takes more settings than are required with a common wired LAN. This tips offers some advice. If you have a networking tip, why not send it in? We'll post it and enter you in our tips contest. You might win a nifty prize.

Wireless networking is just getting off the ground. It requires special settings unique to wireless devices. Interfaces come in PCI, PC Cards, and USB. USB devices must be connected directly to the computer or to a hub because they draw power from the USB cable. PCI and PC Card devices should be installed in a slot in a way that they receive the maximum exposure for the antenna. When setting up a computer that will use wireless networking, use shielded cables and speakers. Maximum bandwidth can be reduced by any electrical interference.

Default settings may pose some security risks and may have to be altered. Configure them with security in mind. The access point settings need to be the same all over your wireless network, so be sure they are checked before you launch your network.

Some wireless devices can be set to communicate with others without using an access point. Although this increases the overall flexibility of the client systems, it can compromise a central network security policy.

Another thing to check is that your encryption keys match on both the client and access points. If your location requires maximum security, the keys should be changed frequently so that the encryption cannot be breached.

The encryption scheme WEP or Wired Equivalent Protection is used to compensate for the lack of physical security. Some U.S. models support the preferred 128-bit encryption. Keep this option enabled. If your cellular wireless network allows roaming, a client could possibly enter a different subnet. This can cause an IP conflict. Mobile IP should not be used unless the network is very large.

You can specify the communication speed with Rate Control. If the maximum bandwidth is reduced, the roaming range is increased. It also reduces power consumption but takes its toll on peak performance. The defaults are usually the best settings here. This setting may be configurable however, so that different default speeds in each location may be used.

When configuring different WLAN service areas you will want multiple wireless networks of the same type to overlap in the same geographic area. If a service area number such as 101 is enabled by default, you'll need to change this setting since this is a security risk.

Barrie Sosinsky ( president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.

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Related Book

Wireless Intelligent Networking
Author : Gerry Christensen, Paul G. Florack and Robert Duncan
Publisher : Artech House
Published : Nov 2000
Summary :
Here's an outstanding introduction to intelligent network (IN) concepts, technology, and applications for use in mobile communications networks. It helps assure your success in bringing new services to market by clearly explaining the technology, relevant standards, marketability concerns, product development issues, and even evolutionary trends.

This was last published in July 2001

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