This article is meant to clarify common wireless terminology.
Access Point: A radio device that acts as a gateway between wired networks and wireless clients. Similar to a “hub,” the access point is a common connection point for devices in a wireless network.
Bandwidth: The speed of a network connection commonly reported in Kilobits per second (Kbps) or Megabits per second (Mbps).
Client Adapter: Radio hardware installed in the client device (laptop, PDA, etc) that allows communication to and from an access point.
Connection Quality: Wireless connection quality is determined by factors that can affect radio transmissions, such as distance from the access point, number of users sharing bandwidth, state of the environment in which the transmission is taking place, and the presence of other devices that can cause interference. Acceptable throughput levels should be specified within service level agreements.
Coverage: The geographical area that covers an acceptable level of wireless activity, or the geographical area where good connection service quality is attainable.
Encryption: A method of scrambling and unscrambling data between one connection point to another, with the purpose of preventing unauthorized eyes from deciphering the data.
Interference: Degradation in wireless communications by any number of causes, such as other wireless devices, microwaves, handheld radios, cordless telephones, high voltage audio speakers, etc. Such interference usually slows down a wireless transmission or completely eliminate it depending on the strength of the signal.
User Authentication: A method by which the user of a wireless system can be verified as a legitimate user, independent of the computer or the operating system being used.
Wireless Infrastructure: Wireless access points, antennas, cabling, power, and network hardware associated with the deployment of a wireless communications network.