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The Solutions Review Wireless Network Glossary

We know it’s tough to keep up with the latest in wireless lingo and that’s we put together this handy glossary of the networking terms you need to know in 2017. From APs to WEP, we’ve got you covered. Make sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently, as we’ll be updated it on a regular basis! And don’t forget to check out our 2016 Wireless Networks Buyer’s Guide for a complete market overview of the top 24 Wireless vendors, available here.


Access Point

An access point, or AP, is a device that acts as the connector between network users and the network itself.

A peer to peer mode of networking that uses wi-fi networking without an access point. These networks can include more than two devices.

A specialized transducer that turns radio frequency fields into alternating current, or vice versa. There are two basic types of antennas: the receiving antenna and the transmitting antenna. The receiving antenna intercepts radio frequency energy and delivers alternating current to electronic equipment. The transmitting antenna is fed with alternating currents from eletronic equipment and generates radio frequency field.


Basic Service Set Identifier, the MAC address of the access point.


A captive portal is a process running on an AP that can intercept and redirect clients who have associated to a web page where they must agree to terms of service, provide a password, or even purchase access. This is common in hotels, airports, guest networks, and other locations that offer Internet access but want to charge a fee, restrict it to authorized users, or require the user to accept their AUP.

A channel is the network path for wireless transmissions. Each Wi-Fi standard has numerous channels, each of which is a central frequency. There are 11 channels in 802.11b and g networks in the United States in Canada’ 14 in most other countries. There are 9 channels in 802.11a networks in the United States.

In 802.11b and g networks, multiple channels can be combined to obtain greater throughput when all access points and clients can support it.

A closed network requires users to have authentication information before they can get onto the network.


A wireless technology used to transmit large quantities of data over a wide spectrum of frequency bands using low power over a short distance.

Using multiple antennae to reduce interference and improve both transmission and reception of signals.


The extensible Authentication Protocol can be used to provide authentication to the wireless network when employing WPA-Enterprise and WPA2-Enterprise.

The Extensible Authentication Protocol-Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling. It is one possible EAP scheme in wireless networks for authentication.

A home made access point that acts as a legitimate one to gather personal and corporate information without the end-user’s knowledge.

(EAP) An authentication protocol for wireless networks that expands on methods used by the Point to Point Protocol, a protocol often used when connecting a computer o the Internet. EAP can support multiple authentication mechanisms, such as token cards , certificate, one-time passwords, and public key encryption authentication.

A home-made wireless access point that acts as a legitimate one to gather personal or corporate information without the end-user’s knowledge. It’s fairly easy for an attacker to create an evil twin by simply using a laptop, a wireless card and some readily-available software. The attacker positions themselves in the vicinity of a legitimate Wi-Fi access point and lets his computer discover what name and radio frequency the legitimate access point uses. He then sends out his own radio signal, using the same name.


Any wireless devices that are in fixed locations such as homes and offices. Fixed wireless devices, unlike mobile devices, usually receive power through utility mains.


HiperLAN is a communication standard typically used in European countries.

A hotspot is a WLAN node that provides internet connection and VPN access from a given location.


The Industrial, Scientific, and Medical Frequency bands are unlicensed bands used by a range of devices for wireless connectivity. In the 2.4 GHz ISM band, 802.11b and g network devices, Bluetooth devices, NFC devices, baby monitors, and microwave oven all compete for this bandwidth.

The use of wireless technology in devices or systems that convey data through infrared radiation. Infrared is electromagnetic energy at a wavelength or wavelengths somewhat longer than those of red light. The shortest-wavelength IR borders visible red in the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, the longest wavelength IR borders radio waves.


Also known as LEAP, this protocol was developed by Cisco to provide authentication to networks using WEP for encryption. The protocol has been replaced by EAP-FAST.


The use of wireless technology in devices or systems that covet data through infrared radiation.

Multiple Input Multiple Output. An antenna technology for wireless communication where multiple antennas are used at both the source and the destination. The antennas at each end of the communications circuit are combined to reduce errors and optimize data speed.

Multiple Input Single Output. An antenna technology for wireless communication where multiple antennas are used at the source. The antennas at each end of the communications circuit are combined to reduce errors and optimize data speed.


A short range wireless connectivity standard that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they’re touched together.


An open network allows for association and authentication without requirement a passphrase, certificate, or credentials. Open networks are frequently called ‘hotspots’ and provide free Internet access to anyone within range.

The combined use of conventional radio-frequency wireless and optical fiber for telecommunication. Long-range links are provided by optical fiber and links from the long-range end-points to end users are accompanied


A passphrase is a password or a combination of words used to provide authentication to a wireless network WEP uses fixed 40 or 104 bit passphrases, while WPA and WPA2 can use arbitrary length passphrases.


This allows networks to prioritize certain traffic types above others so that things which are mission critical or latency sensitive are given preferred access to the network over low priority.


The distance between an access point and a client over which wi-fi transmissions can be successful.

A repeater is a wireless network device that receives signals and re-transmits them, without providing direct access to the network.

A wireless router is an access point that also performs Internet connection sharing, and can run a DHCP service, a captive portal service.

A rogue client attempts to access a wireless network without the proper authority. A rogue access point is one that’s installed onto the wired network without authority and can be a device placed by someone attempting penetrate the network.


The Temporal Key Integration Protocol was developed as a replacement for WEP, but has since been deemed unsecure and has been removed from 802.11 standards.

Transport Layer Security is a protocol designed to encrypt and authenticate all kinds of network traffic at the transport layer, and is the successor to SSL. It uses certificates to exchange public keys, which are then used to encrypt session keys.

A wireless communications, monitoring, or control device that picks up and automatically responds to an incoming signal.


A wireless technology for transmitting large amounts of digital data over a wide spectrum of frequency bands with very low power for a short distance. Ultra wideband broadcasts very precisely timed digital pulses on a carrier signal across a very wide spectrum (number of frequency channels) at the same time.

The Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure radio bands include frequencies in the 5 GHz range used by 802.11a, n, and ac, standards.


The Wired Equivalent Privacy is the original encryption scheme implemented in wireless networks. It uses RC4 and either a 40bit or 104 bit pre-shared key, WEP provides roughly the same amount of privacy as using a hub does on a wired network.

Wi-Fi Protected Access is a security protocol for wireless networks that was designed to replace WEP, an earlier security protocol. It uses WPA uses TKIP to encrypt data and is more resistant to attacks than its predecessor.

Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2 is the strongest encryption protocol available to wireless networks, and is the current 802.11i standard. The protocol uses uses AES encryption for data and is considered to be cryptographically strong.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup makes it easier for users to add Wi-Fi clients to WPA and WPA2 protected wireless networks.


A unidirectional antenna commonly used in communications when a frequency is above 10 MHz.


A constantly changing family of specifications for wireless local area networks, developed developed by the IEEE. 802.11 standards use the ethernet protocol and CSMA/CA for path sharing.

The IEEE wireless standard for the 5GHz range. Networks in this standard can support up to 1 Gbps throughput using multiple channel, 500 Mbps using a single channel, and operate in the UNII bands. It uses 80 and 160 MHz channels and MIMO to reach higher throughput rates.

One of many specifications in the 802.11 family relevant to WLANs. Networks using 802.11a operate between 5.725 GHz and 5.850 GHz.

Also known as Wi-Fi. Rather than the PSK modulation method used in 802.11 standards, 802.11b uses CCK to allow for faster data speeds and is less vulnerable to multipath propagation interference.