Describe the hardware and software components of a wireless network.


Teaching Note:


Sample Question:


JSR Notes:

See also Pages 75 - 77 in the ITGS textbook photocopy packet.



The first thing we can do is recognize the server/provider side:

Though it's not part of what you yourself, or an organization would hook up when constructing a wireless network, do keep in mind that there has to be something wired that ultimately the wireless network taps into. So the ISP (Internet Service Provider) "pumps out" the Internet through ISDN or DSL or cable, or even fiber-optic cables right to the house/office. From there, we plug in our modem, etc. as described below.


Wireless Network Hardware:

Office: Gateway/Firewall -----> LAN (via server/switch/Ethernet cables) -----> Wireless router (with wireless access point) ----> antenna ----> receiving device (with wireless network card)

Home (Modem/Gateway/Firewall) ----> Wireless router (with wireless access point) ----> antenna ----> receiving device (with wireless network card)

Office Wireless Hardware:
(I do include all hardware from the gateway to the receiving device, but do note that it's mainly the devices near the bottom of the list that are purely part of the wireless part of the network.)

Home Wireless Hardware

(In summary, if it is an analog signal coming in, the "modem" acts in its traditional way of translating analog to digital, but one way or the other it acts as a gateway; but then the signal goes to the the wireless router (wireless access point) which broadcasts the signal wirelessly.)

In the case of a home wireless network,

the gateway is the modem

the wireless access point is the router/hub


Basically, it's no more complex than you plug in a wireless router to your modem, and then after it's configured, you're good to go.

Here's the video one we watched in class.

Plus, refer to the diagram below.

Wireless Network Software:


Wireless Drivers:

Drivers are small software programs used by the operating systems of servers and computers to tell them how to work with specific hardware - so, put another way, drivers are the interface between operating systems and specific hardware devices. There are printer drivers, and hard drive drivers, and sound card drivers, and so on. There are also wireless device drivers.

Wireless router devices will have drivers specific for wireless transmission., and they will work within the guidelines of a certain wireless protocol, such as IEEE 802.11. Here is the wikipedia definition of it: IEEE 802.11 is a set of media access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) specifications for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) computer communication in the 2.4, 3.6, 5 and 60 GHz frequency bands.
There have been incrementally fast versions of this released, for example 802.11b, and 802.11g.

The receiving devices will have drivers specific to the same wireless standard (for example 802.11g).

Operating Systems

Operating systems which supports wireless communication will have to support various wireless protocols technologies (i.e. Bluetooth, wiFi, wiMax, 3G, 4G) and also the protocols which dictate network transmission (i.e. TCP/IP). And server-side operating systems for servers on LANS will have to have all the more networking abilities.

Remember in Middle School you used to send files by Bluetooth. More on all of this later...

Mac OS can work with the following wireless protocols: bluetooth, wi-fi (used to support infra-red, but no longer)

Your iOS on iPhone etc. supports bluetooth (hands-free head set, for example), wiFi, and 2G, 3G, 4G


Various Other Network Utility Software

Along with drivers specific to certain hardware devices, all servers and receiving computers that are set up to use wireless communication will have parts of their operating system, at the low levels, and also at the user levels, which allow various networking tasks. For example, parts of the Mac operating system that is prepared to work with wireless communication include parts of the Network System Preference, the Network Assistant Utility, and the Bluetooth File Exchange utility.


Diagram of Hardware Set-up of Networks

Both include all the main wired parts as well as the wireless parts.


Jaime: Path finding algorithms associated with switch technology: Dijkstra asdfasdasfd, and The brachistochrone curve which is always the fastest path asdfadsfafds...