These days, we take telecommunication technologies for granted. Our smartphones and laptops are capable of connecting to any available network wirelessly. We flip a switch, click a button, and get the network connection we desire. We can exchange large amounts of data between devices without the need for wires or cables. Our modern minds are accustomed to such technological advancements, so we may not consider questioning the workings behind such “wireless” convenience. But how exactly does a wireless network work? Let’s discuss how WLAN (wireless local area network) works in some detail to give you a better understanding of how wireless data transmission works in our homes and offices.
Before starting, always remember to consult the expert professionals at Communications Solutions Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida, for all your home and business telecommunication technology needs.
Now, let’s dive right in.
How WLAN Works
All telecommunication technologies have a basic structure or model to transmit information (data in this case). This basic structure includes 4 key components.
- These start devices transmit the information (data) by converting it into signals.
- These are the electrical pulses or digital packets that carry the information.
- This is the intermediary through which the signals travel from the transmitters to the receivers.
- These are the end devices where the signals are received and converted back into information.
This model is the same for almost every telecommunication technology globally, from wired telephones to modern high-speed wireless networks. However, this is simply a basic model, and each component can become far more complex in real-world applications of modern telecommunication technologies.
Traditional local area network (LAN) systems connected computers, devices, printers, fax machines, and network devices using cables. These cables were the “medium” through which electrical pulses or “signals” were carried between receivers and transmitters.
Wireless local area network (WLAN) systems follow the same basic telecommunication model, but instead of the cable as the medium, they use radio waves.
Unlike the copper wires in a cable, radio waves are not electrical conductors, which means they cannot carry electrical pulses or “signals.” For this reason, digital data packets are used as signals in a WLAN system. Here’s how WLAN works using these components.
· Data Packets (Signals)
Digital data transmissions use data packets as signals. These data packets travel in segments so that a single transmission doesn’t hog the connection and prevent other devices or computers from transmitting data through the network.
Since there can only be one computer transmitting data at any given moment, segmenting the data into smaller packets allows multiple computers to transmit data simultaneously. They take turns sending smaller amounts of data through data packets.
This type of segmentation gives the appearance of instant data transmissions from multiple devices on the network simultaneously. Each data packet contains headers with key information relating to the data, which helps transmit the data accurately and efficiently.
· Network Adapters (Transmitters)
A network adapter in a wired network (LAN) converts data into electronic signals so it can travel through the cable to reach the receiver. Things work similarly in a wireless local area network as well. However, instead of actual, physical cables, the antennas may be considered the length of the cable.
The network adaptor generates electronic signals that represent binary data in ones and zeros in a wired network. Similarly, in a wireless network, the network adapter sends the signals along with the antenna, generating a magnetic charge, which emits out from the antenna in all directions, as a field.
This field casts a wide net around the antenna for receiving antennas or devices within its signal range.
· Radio Waves/ Frequencies (Medium)
The field carrying the signal typically uses radio waves at frequency bands of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, depending on the frequency capability of the network adapter. All radio waves have a frequency, i.e., the number of waves or cycles per second. This frequency is calculated in Hertz (Hz).
Radio frequencies range between 3,000 Hertz (3 kHz) and 300 Gigahertz (GHz). To better understand this range, one Hertz (1 Hz) is one wave per second, and one Gigahertz (1 GHz) is one thousand million waves per second.
The most commonly used frequency band for wireless networks is 2.4 GHz, as it can easily transmit signals through walls and other such obstructions for seamless wireless connectivity. However, modern, “dual-band” wireless systems can use both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands to carry the signal.
These frequency bands are the “medium” through which the signals travel in a wireless network or WLAN system.
Receivers within the signal field range must be set to the same frequency as the emitting antenna to receive the transmitted signals. This means that if the transmitter uses a 2.4 GHz frequency band as the medium, receivers must be tuned in to the same frequency band (2.4 GHz) to receive signals.
The signals traveling through the radio waves get collected by the receiving antenna. The signals are then converted into digital data by the receiving antenna’s network adapter.
This completes the data transmission in a WLAN system. It occurs at very high speeds and allows seamless data transmission between connected devices or computers.
By now, you should have a good understanding of how wireless local area networks work. They use the same basic model as any other telecommunication technology with minor differences that allow data transmission over a “wireless” network.
Of course, many more complex things make this possible, like modulation and the number of available channels, but we can discuss them another time.
For now, we highly recommend business owners in Florida consult Communications Solutions Inc. for all their business telecommunication and network needs.
If you want to learn more about how WLAN works or deploy WLAN or other modern telecommunication technologies for your business, Contact Us Today.