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WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network. WLAN is a local area network that uses radio communication to provide mobility to the network users while maintaining the connectivity to the wired network. A WLAN basically, extends a wired local area network. WLAN’s are built by attaching a device called the access point(AP) to the edge of the wired network. Clients communicate with the AP using a wireless network adapter which is similar in function to an ethernet adapter. It is also called a LAWN is a Local area wireless network. 

The performance of WLAN is high compared to other wireless networks. The coverage of WLAN is within a campus or building or that tech park. It is used in the mobile propagation of wired networks. The standards of WLAN are HiperLAN, Wi-Fi, and IEEE 802.11. It offers service to the desktop laptop, mobile application, and all the devices that work on the Internet. WLAN is an affordable method and can be set up in 24 hours. WLAN gives users the mobility to move around within a local coverage area and still be connected to the network. Most latest brands are based on IEE 802.11 standards, which are the WI-FI brand name. 


A professor at the University of Hawaii who’s name was Norman Abramson, developed the world’s first wireless computer communication network. In 1979, Gfeller and u. Bapst published a paper in the IEE proceedings reporting an experimental wireless local area network using diffused infrared communications. The first of the IEEE workshops on Wireless LAN was held in 1991. 

WLAN Architecture

Components in Wireless LAN architecture as per IEEE standards are as follows:

  1. Stations: Stations consist of all the equipment that is used to connect all wireless LANs. Each station has a wireless network controller.
  2. Base Service Set(BSS): It is a group of stations communicating at the physical layer.
  3. Extended Service Set(ESS): It is a group of connected Base Service Set(BSS).
  4. Distribution Service (DS): It connects all Extended Service Set(ESS).

Types of WLANs

As per IEEE standard WLAN is categorized into two basic modes, which are as follows:

  1. Infrastructure: In Infrastructure mode, all the endpoints are connected to a base station and communicate through that; and this can also enable internet access. A WLAN infrastructure can be set up with: a wireless router (base station) and an endpoint (computer, mobile phone, etc). An office or home WiFi connection is an example of Infrastructure mode.
  2. Ad Hoc: In Ad Hoc mode WLAN connects devices without a base station, like a computer workstation. An Ad Hoc WLAN is easy to set up it provides peer-to-peer communication. It requires two or more endpoints with built-in radio transmission.

Working of WLAN

WLAN transmits data over radio signals and the data is sent in the form of a packet. Each packet consists of layers, labels, and instructions with unique MAC addresses assigned to endpoints. This enables routing data packets to correct locations.

Characteristics of WLAN

  1. Seamless operation.
  2. Low power for battery use.
  3. Simple management, easy to use for everyone.
  4. Protection of investment in wired networks.
  5. Robust transmission technology.

Advantages of WLAN

  1. Installation speed and simplicity.
  2. Installation flexibility.
  3. Reduced cost of ownership.
  4. Reliability.
  5. Mobility.
  6. Robustness.

Disadvantages of WLAN

  1. Slower bandwidth.
  2. Security for wireless LANs is the prime concern.
  3. Less capacity.
  4. Wireless networks cost four times more than wired network cards.
  5. Wireless devices emit low levels of RF which can be harmful to our health.
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Last Updated : 10 Jun, 2023
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