What Does a Wireless Network Adapter Do

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Definition

A wireless network adapter is a computer hardware component device designed to enable computers to communicate wirelessly over a network.

Wireless adapters are electronic devices that allow computers to connect to the Internet and to other computers without using wires. They send data via radio waves to routers that pass it on to broadband modems or internal networks.

What are the different wireless adapter modes?

Monitor mode is one of the eight modes that 802.11 wireless cards can operate in: Master (acting as an access point), Managed (client, also known as station), Ad hocRepeater, Mesh, Wi-Fi Direct, TDLS and Monitor mode.

There are a six types of wireless network adapters.

PCI

PCI adapters are add-in cards installed inside desktop computers. Before purchasing your wireless network adapter, make sure your desktop computers’ motherboard has an available PCI slot.

PCMCIA

One type of PCI adapter is the PC Card or PCMCIA. We use the PCMCIA inside notebook computers which you will notice because of its antenna that protrudes from the body of your notebook. A great alternative to the PCMIA network adapter is the Mini PCI.

MINI PCI

The Mini PCI wireless adapter has a built-in wireless antenna and is installed inside of your laptop computer. Installation is straightforward. However, installation  does require  know-how.

USB WIRELESS

If you do not know how to install a Mini PCI wireless adapter or do not want a PCMCIA network adapter,  try a USB Wireless network adapter. USB Network adapters are plug-and-play devices that plug into your computer USB port.

They are the easiest way to get wireless connectivity. However, because they occupy a valuable USB slot USB wireless network adapters are an inconvenience.

ETHERNET PORT

The last type of wireless adapter is an Ethernet port wireless adapter. Ethernet port wireless adapters are less common and work by connecting to your computers Ethernet port.

Once you plug the device into your Ethernet port, it works to provide wireless connectivity. You’ll find an Ethernet port wireless adapters in a game console like PlayStation and Xbox.

HOME NETWORK KITS

Many users find it easier to use one of the same brand as their router. Thus, home network kits are ideal for this scenario because they  include a router and wireless network adapter bundled together.

Functions

Wireless network adapters function by connecting to the computer via expansion card devices, or cards designed to expand computer functionality, such as memory cards or PC cards. You can also connect a wireless network adapter via a USB port on the computer or via an internal adapter already contained within the computer.

Wireless adapters are electronic devices that allow computers to connect to the Internet and to other computers without using wires. They send data via radio waves to routers that pass it on to broadband modems or internal networks. Most laptops and tablet computers have built-in wireless adapters, but you often have to install them on desktop computers. Before adding them to office desktops and establishing a wireless network in your office, the kind of adapter you get must match your needs.

FEATURES OF WIRELESS NETWORK ADAPTER

Wireless Standards

The radio waves used by wireless adapters have to satisfy one of the 802.11 broadcast standards of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The most recent standard in common use as of January 2013 is 802.11n, but older adapter models use the “b” or “g” standards. These standards determine the speed of data transfer at which the adapters broadcast, and all use the 2.4GHz radio frequency band. Adapters using the recent standards also support the older standards. A draft standard expected to be approved in 2013 is 802.11ac which will be able to use the less-crowded 5GHz radio frequency band.

Speeds

The oldest standard, IEEE 802.11b, specifies broadcast speeds of up to 11Mbps. The later model adapters broadcast at IEEE 802.11g speeds that can range up to 54Mbps. The IEEE 802.11n standard can theoretically reach speeds of 300Mbps but the adapters using it are usually slower because the radio frequencies are crowded and there is interference. The draft 802.11ac standard will theoretically be able to reach 1Gbps and will in fact be quite fast because it can operate in the 5GHz frequency band. A business can purchase adapters and routers now satisfying the 802.11ac standard to reduce obsolescence.

Security

Wireless adapters broadcast the signals from your computer with a range of about 200 feet. Anyone with a wireless adapter installed in their computers or laptops can pick up your signal and access your files. Securing your wireless network is especially critical for businesses protecting sensitive material and their intellectual property.

To avoid this unauthorized access, wireless adapters use encryption to secure their signals. The WEP, WPA and WPA2 protocols offer password-protected and encrypted transmissions for wireless networks. Your adapter must support these protocols to use them; most do support them. The WEP protocol has some weaknesses, while the WPA2 protocol has the strongest security.

Wireless Basics

The most used wireless network adapters and access points use the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 specification. Most wireless devices are based on this specification and are therefore Wi-Fi certified. There are several different IEEE 802.11 specifications:■

802.11a – Wireless speed up to 54 Mbps using the 5GHz transmission frequency with effective indoor ranges between 25 and 75 feet depending on obstacles.■

802.11b – Wireless speed up to 11 Mbps using the 2.4GHz transmission frequency with effective indoor ranges between 100 and 150 feet. 802.11b is compatible with 802.11g running at 11 Mbps.■

802.11g – Wireless speed up to 54 Mbps using the 2.4GHz transmission frequency with effective indoor ranges between 100 and 150 feet. 802.11g can operate with 802.11b at 11 Mbps.■

802.11n – Wireless speed up to 600 Mbps using either 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz transmission frequency with effective indoor range between 200 and 300 feet. 802.11n can operate with 802.11b at 11 Mbps or 802.11g at 54 Mbps. 802.11n is the newest standard for wireless networking and has improved on previous standards by adding multiple input and multiple output (MIMO).

Most organizations with wireless networking choose to use 802.11g or 802.11n for the speed and backwards compatibility with older devices. Configuring the wireless access point is not within the scope of this book but once it is configured, as long as the Windows 7 system is compatible with the access point specification, there should not be problems connecting.

BENEFITS OF WIRELESS NETWORK ADAPTER

There are many benefits of using USB Wi-Fi adapter:

The USB Wi-Fi adapter makes your computer free from cables. It does not require any hard wiring to a router or any other network device. It connects your computer to a network device wirelessly.

For travelers, who travel with their laptops and portable computers for using it over a Wi-Fi network of a hotel, or some public places, this is the best option to choose over an Ethernet cable.

It gives you relief from installing internal hardware: it’s available for laptop and desktop but many computer users do not know the method to install them. It damages their wireless adapter. So before adding wireless adapter to his/him computer add the software for installing 

So any normal user can use the Wi-Fi adapter.

Eliminate the need to upgrade a computer; the users who  do not have a wireless network adapter can purchase this inexpensive USB WIFI adapter. This adaptor  allows them to connect to the internet via a wireless connection.

Can be used on multiple devices: with USB external device it can be shared easily

The Wireless USB specification is being defined as a high speed host to device connection and its requirements and promises.

These USB connectors let you attach everything from mice to printers to your computer quickly and easily. The operating system supports USB as well, so the installation of the device drivers is quick and easy, too. Compared to other ways of connecting devices to your computer (including parallel ports, serial ports and special cards that you install inside the computer’s case), USB devices are incredibly simple Modems used in the serial port.

Conclusion:

A USB Wi-Fi adapter is easy to install, and simply plugs into the USB port of a laptop or desktop. You need to simply download the driver if your OS does not include them already. And you are ready to go. It allows you to use a Wi-Fi network in your home, office or in a public place. You can access shared files, documents and devices. If you want an easy and wireless way to connect your computer to the internet, then USB Wi-Fi adapter.

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