View Full Version : **Baddass Guide to Wireless Networking and FAQ**

2009-03-27, 03:11
Cheers to Badass from OcUK for this, Props man :D


What is a wireless network?

Recent advances in computer networks have enabled computers to communicate on a wireless network. The technology is known as 802.11b or as WiFi (Wireless Fidelity).

802.11b technology is also being used to distribute the internet to computers in public spaces such as airports, coffee shops and other locations where the public desires to have an internet connection. These public networks are commonly referred to as a "Hot Spots". You can learn more about 802.11b technology and their use in Hot Spots at Wi-Fi Planet - The Source for Wi-Fi Business and Technology (http://www.80211-planet.com/)

Are there competing or alternative technologies?

Bluetooth and HomeRF are both competing technologies. Both of these competing technologies are finding it difficult to compete with WiFi. WiFi is less proprietary, is more powerful, and has more flexibility during deployment.

What is 802.11?

802.11 refers to a family of specifications developed by the IEEE for wireless LAN technology. 802.11 specifies an over-the-air interface between a wireless client and a base station or between two wireless clients. The IEEE accepted the specification in 1997.

What are the different 802.11 standards?

There are several specifications in the 802.11 family:

802.11 -- applies to wireless LANs and provides 1 or 2 Mbps transmission in the 2.4 GHz band using either frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) or direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS).

802.11a -- an extension to 802.11 that applies to wireless LANs and provides up to 54 Mbps in the 5GHz band. 802.11a uses an orthogonal frequency division multiplexing encoding scheme rather than FHSS or DSSS. Think it’s illegal in the UK atm

802.11b (also referred to as 802.11 High Rate or Wi-Fi) -- an extension to 802.11 that applies to wireless LANS and provides 11 Mbps transmission (with a fallback to 5.5, 2 and 1 Mbps) in the 2.4 GHz band. 802.11b uses only DSSS. 802.11b was a 1999 ratification to the original 802.11 standard, allowing wireless functionality comparable to Ethernet. Most common atm

802.11g -- applies to wireless LANs and provides 20+ Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band. Backwardly compatible with ‘a’ and ‘b’ standards. This is the newest standard and is generally used for new faster >22mbps WLAN’s but still on the same 2.4GHz frequencey

How does 802.11a differ from 802.11b?

Both IEEE 802.11a and IEE 802.11b are wireless LAN technology standards. Like Ethernet and Fast Ethernet, 802.11b and 802.11a use an identical MAC. However, while Fast Ethernet uses the same physical-layer encoding scheme as Ethernet only faster, 802.11a uses an entirely different modulation scheme called orthogonal frequency division multi- plexing {OFDM). Because 802.11a has a range approximately half that of 802.11b, more access points are required to cover the same area in a building. Basically ‘a’ is faster but has shorter range than ‘b’

Will 802.11a replace 802.11 b?

No. It's believed that the emerging IEEE 802.11a standard for wireless LANs will complement and co-exist rather than compete with the 802.11b standard. The higher data rate will prove beneficial when wireless video and multimedia applications become widespread. If you need to increase bandwidth, you can begin by deploying pockets of 802.11a gear right alongside your 802.11b installation. Wi-Fi's greater range and sustainable 11 Mbps data rate complement 802.11a's shorter range and 54 Mbps data rate. Because the two standards can coexist without interference risk, products could even be deployed that use both standards simultaneously, such as dual-radio access points.

Are 802.11a products backward compatible with 802.11b products?

No. Short of replacing the radios, there is currently no defined upgrade path between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz technologies. This could prove to be a difficult selling point for 802.11a only vendors.

What is the range of a wireless network?

Each access point has a finite range within which a wireless connection can be maintained between the client computer and the access point. The actual distance varies depending upon the environment; manufacturers typically state both indoor and outdoor ranges to give a reasonable indication of reliable performance. Also it should be noted that when operating at the limits of range the performance may drop, as the quality of connection deteriorates and the system compensates.

Typical indoor ranges are 150-300 feet, but can be shorter if the building construction interferes with radio transmissions. Longer ranges are possible, but performance will degrade with distance.

Outdoor ranges are quoted up to 1000 feet, but again this depends upon the environment.

There are ways to extend the basic operating range of Wireless communications, by using more than a single access point or using a wireless relay /extension point.

What causes interference with a wireless network?

Interference can be caused two ways. First, other sources of radio waves such as other 802.11b devices operating on the same channel, microwave ovens (they operate on the same frequency at much higher levels), 2.4 gigahertz cordless phones, and other errant radio transmissions. You can reduce this interference by eliminating the use of these devices or by turning them off. With these kind of frequencies too, they don't transmit very well through water, so make sure there's no water areas (inc baths etc) between your antennas

Oh yeah, and how do I find out my IP address?

you can find out your internal IP address (ie the IP of your network card) by going to a command prompt and typing "ipconfig/all". If you need to know your external IP (the ip for your internet connection) then go to What Is My IP Address? - IP Address Lookup, Internet Speed Test, IP Info, plus more (http://www.whatismyip.com) and it will tell you

What is a wireless network made up of? WLAN Setup

There are two kinds of wireless networks:

1. An ad-hoc, or peer-to-peer wireless network consists of a number of computers each equipped with a wireless networking interface card. Each computer can communicate directly with all of the other wireless enabled computers in the same network group. They can share files and printers this way, but may not be able to access wired LAN resources, unless one of the computers acts as a bridge to the wired LAN using special software. (This is called "bridging")

Figure 1: Ad-Hoc or Peer-to Peer Networking.
Each computer with a wireless interface can communicate directly with all of the others.

Have a look on Microsoft's guide to p2p WLAN (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/networking/expert/bowman_02april08.mspx) for more helpful info


2. A wireless network can also use an access point, or base station. In this type of network the access point acts like a hub, providing connectivity for the wireless computers. It can connect (or "bridge") the wireless LAN to a wired LAN, allowing wireless computer access to LAN resources, such as file servers or existing Internet Connectivity. A single access point can support a small group of users and can function within a range of less than one hundred to several hundred feet. End users access the wireless LAN through wireless-LAN adapters, which are implemented as PC cards in notebook or palmtop computers, as cards in desktop computers, or integrated within hand-held computers. Wireless LAN adapters provide an interface between the client network operating system (***) and the airwaves via an antenna. The nature of the wireless connection is transparent to the ***.

There are two types of access points:

1. Dedicated hardware access points (HAP) such as Lucent's WaveLAN, Apple's Airport Base Station or WebGear's AviatorPRO. (See Figure 2). Hardware access points offer comprehensive support of most wireless features, but check your requirements carefully.

2. Software Access Points which run on a computer equipped with a wireless network interface card as used in an ad-hoc or peer-to-peer wireless network. (See Figure 3) you can get software routers that can be used as a basic Software Access Point, and include features not commonly found in hardware solutions, such as Direct PPPoE support and extensive configuration flexibility, but may not offer the full range of wireless features defined in the 802.11 standard.

With appropriate networking software support, users on the wireless LAN can share files and printers located on the wired LAN and vice versa. Some software solutions support file sharing using TCP/IP.

Figure 2: Hardware Access Point.
Wireless connected computers using a Hardware Access Point.

Figure 3: Software Access Point.
Wireless connected computers using a Software Access Point.

Q. How many wireless networked computers can use a single access point?

A. This depends upon the manufacturer. Some hardware access points have a recommended limit of 10, with other more expensive access points supporting up to 100 wireless connections. Using more computers than recommended will cause performance and reliability to suffer.

Software access points may also impose user limitations, but this depends upon the specific software, and the host computer's ability to process the required information.

Q. Can I have more than one access point?

A. Yes, multiple access points can be connected to a wired LAN, or sometimes even to a second wireless LAN if the access point supports this.

In most cases, separate access points are interconnected via a wired LAN, providing wireless connectivity in specific areas such as offices or classrooms, but connected to a main wired LAN for access to network resources, such as file servers.

If a single area is too large to be covered by a single access point, then multiple access points or extension points can be used. -- Note that an "extension point" is not defined in the wireless standard, but have been developed by some manufacturers. When using multiple access points, each access point wireless area should overlap its neighbours. This provides a seamless area for users to move around in using a feature called “roaming.”

Some manufacturers produce extension points, which act as wireless relays, extending the range of a single access point. Multiple extension points can be strung together to provide wireless access to far away locations from the central access point.

Q. What is Roaming?

A wireless computer can "roam" from one access point to another, with the software and hardware maintaining a steady network connection by monitoring the signal strength from in-range access points and locking on to the one with the best quality. Usually this is completely transparent to the user; they are not aware that a different access point is being used from area to area. Some access point configurations require security authentication when swapping access points, usually in the form of a password dialog box.

Access points are required to have overlapping wireless areas to achieve this as can be seen in the following diagram:

Figure 6: Roaming.
A user can move from Area 1 to Area 2 transparently. The Wireless networking hardware automatically swaps to the Access Point with the best signal.

Not all access points are capable of being configured to support roaming. Also of note is that any access points for a single vendor should be used when implementing roaming, as there is no official standard for this feature.

Q. Can I use a wireless network to interconnect two LANs?

A. Yes. Wireless networking offers a cost-effective solution to users with difficult physical installations such as campuses, hospitals or businesses with more than one location in immediate proximity but separated by public thoroughfare. This type of installation requires two access points. Each access point acts as a bridge or router connecting its own LAN to the wireless connection. The wireless connection allows the two access points to communicate with each other, and therefore interconnect the two LAN's.


What about Wireless Routers?

A wireless router combines the functions of an access point with those of a router. Thus it will have both a WAN and LAN interface. The WAN interface is most often used for connection to a broadband modem. The router uses NAT to allow the computers on the LAN to share the one WAN connection.

More Advanced FAQ

Can I mix wireless equipment from different vendors?

Because most wireless networking hardware vendors support the 802.11 standard they can inter-operate. However, I recommend verification as the standard is a fairly recent one, and does specify two different methods for wireless communications; Frequency Hopping (FH) and Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS or DS), which are not interoperable.

When purchasing wireless networking hardware from separate vendors be sure to obtain guarantees from the vendors that the hardware will interoperate and follows the standards.

Also of note is that the latest version of the standard defines 11mbps and 5.5mbps networking, with support for the older standard 1mbps and 2mbps speeds. This provides some compatibility with different or older equipment. Note that this new standard covers DS-type Networks, not FH types.

Software access points such as InterGate which uses the wireless interface of the host computer should have no compatibility issues with third party wireless hardware, as long as standards are followed. Typically wireless hardware is identified to the software as a network interface, and therefore can be used in the same way as any other network card

It is generally recommended to use WLAN devices from the same vendor when trying to achieve 22mbps speeds or greater.

What about security?

Wireless communications obviously provide potential security issues, as an intruder does not need physical access to the traditional wired network in order to gain access to data communications. However, 802.11 wireless communications cannot be received --much less decoded-- by simple scanners, short wave receivers etc. This has led to the common misconception that wireless communications cannot be eavesdropped at all. However, eavesdropping is possible using specialist equipment.

To protect against any potential security issues, 802.11 wireless communications have a function called WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), a form of encryption which provides privacy comparable to that of a traditional wired network. If the wireless network has information that should be secure then WEP should be used, ensuring the data is protected at traditional wired network levels.

Also it should be noted that traditional Virtual Private Networking (VPN) techniques will work over wireless networks in the same way as traditional wired networks.

WEP is normally at 3 levels of security, 64bit, 128bit and 256bit encryption, although the latter is not compatible with all equipment as it is fairly new. 64bit should be fine for most home networks. 128bit and 256bit will be more secure obviously and shouldn’t effect transfer speeds.

(Q) How many characters are ASCII based WEP keys?
(A) 40/64 bit = 5 characters
128 bit = 13 characters

(Q) How many characters are HEX based WEP keys?
(A) 40/64bit = 10 characters
128bit = 26 characters

#Chris5# adds: "Whilst better than nothing, WEP can be cracked through analysis of the transmitted data collected by packet sniffing. A large amount of data does need to be collected though. The link below estimates around 7GB of traffic is required. For a home user or small business, this could take a couple of weeks to gather. However, a busy access point in a corporate office could clock up this amount of traffic in a matter of hours."

Cracking WEP - InformIT: Cracking WEP > Home Wireless Local Area Network Users (http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=27666) (pretty technical)

thanks to SNOW-MUNKI and #CHRI5# for help on info for this one :)


SSID Broadcast

A process where a wireless router or access point is transmitting its Service Set Identifier (SSID), or network name. SSID broadcasts are useful to wireless clients to be able to identify the origin and purpose of a given wireless network. Well-chosen SSIDs can differentiate connecting to one wireless network vs. another when in the presence of multiple networks. Many wireless router and access point manufactures provide a feature to disable SSID broadcasts as a security feature. Disabling SSID broadcasts provides minimal security benefits and should not be the only the only step taken to secure a wireless network.

The SSID can be found un-encrypted in the header of every packet. Hence it is a simple task for somebody with a basic packet sniffer to find an SSID. At the very least change it from the manufacturers default setting and disable the broadcast option. That will make it a tiny bit harder for your next door neighbour to borrow your broadband......


MAC Address Filtering

A process where a wireless router or access point is configured to allow associations (connections) from pre-defined clients only. Many manufactures provide this feature as a security feature. Utilizing Media Access Control (MAC) address filtering provides minimal security benefits and should not be the only step taken to secure a wireless network.


Wi-Fi Protected Acccess (eventually 802.11i)

This is a replacement to WEP developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance (http://www.wi-fi.org/OpenSection/index.asp). It is designed to be much more robust and Windows XP will support WPA with a free download (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=009d8425-ce2b-47a4-abec-274845dc9e91&displaylang=en). MS have more information on WPA here. (http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=815485)

More Security Info:

Some vendors use VPN encryption for traffic in the wireless phase to ensure security. For instance, SonicWall's TZW (http://www.sonicwall.com/products/sohotzw.html) product can be configured to only allow users with VPN to connect to the network. Triple DES encryption is considered vastly more secure than WEP.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has a helpfull section on securing a WLAN here (http://www.wi-fi.org/OpenSection/secure.asp?TID=2)

Big thanks to #Chri5# for his help with info about WLAn Security! :)

How can I use a wireless network to share an Internet connection?

Once you realise that wireless cards are analogous to ethernet cards and that empty space is analogous to ethernet cabling, the answer to this question becomes clear. To share an Internet connection across a LAN you need two things:

* an Internet sharing hardware device or software program
* a LAN

If your LAN is wireless, the same criteria apply. You need a hardware or software access point and a wireless LAN. Any computer equipped with a wireless network card running suitable Internet sharing software can be used as a software access point. A number of vendors offer hardware access points.

A hardware access point may provide Internet Sharing capabilities to Wired LAN computers, but does not usually provide much flexibility beyond very simple configurations.

Things to consider when setting up a WLAN internet sharing connection

If you’re using a gateway PC to share the connection the network card on the receiving PC will need to have the IP of the sharing PC as the “gateway” and “DNS gateway”. You will also need to be running on the same SSID. Normally if you can ping between PC’s then internet sharing is not far away! :) Often running through the Windows Network Setup Wizard will do the trick as they have options for choosing how you share the LAN and how you share the internet connection. Windows ME and later have ICS built in, Win98 will need third party ICS programs to function. If your’re using a gateway PC then obviously that PC will need to be on for the other’s to get internet access.

If you want to be able to share internet without using a gateway PC, then you will need a wireless router. All Pc’s will get internet access through the router instead. The principals are the same as on a hard-wired LAN, u’ll need a gateway or a router.

Q. If I have more than one hardware access point, how can I share a single Internet connection?

If an existing wired LAN already has an Internet connection, then the hardware access points simply connect to your LAN and allow wireless computers to access the existing Internet connection in the same way as wired LAN computers.


How do I get the faster speeds >22mbps?

22mbps works by bonding together 2 wireless channels (2 x 11bps) to give you 22mbps. Although the manufacturers only guarantee that it will work with their own kit, sometimes you will have no problems getting it running between different manufacturers, but always best to stick with same if you can for ease of use. This same rule applies for getting 54mbps (2x 22mbps) and 108mbps (2x 54mbps). This speed is only a raw data speed, actual performance will depend on equipment, distance between WLAN devices and signal quality, generally speeds will not be near the full potential as it is working over radio waves.

As far as reaching the quoted high speeds goes, even if you got rid of all of the error prevention overheads involved in a wireless transmission (which you never can) you'd still never transmit at the maximum speed. The figure is just the raw data speed and the actual delivered bandwidth after the various overheads at the physical layer, logical link layer, mac layer etc is generally nowhere near it. This applies to all the 802.11 standards. Have a look here (http://www.uninett.no/wlan/throughput.html) for more in depth info and for pretty picstures about throughout:

Thanks to JOKE_DAY for help in the info for this one :)


Preamble Mode, RTS Threshold and Frag Threshold?

This link provides in depth info about Preamble modes, but to summarise, Short mode is better for faster throughput:

UNINETT: WLAN - Throughput (http://www.uninett.no/wlan/throughput.html)

Frag threshold: On extremely poor links with lots of lost packets, set a small frag threshold and only the trashed fragment has to be retransmitted. But there's overhead for each packet, so on a "normal" net you leave the frag threshold at the maximum value, which is the default.

RTS threshold: On a heavily loaded net with lots of collisions, you can use a RTS/CTS extension, which avoids collisions at the cost of an extra administrative packet for each data packet. So you only want to do this for big packets. Many cards are not capable of doing RTS/CTS anyway. More info here:

Advice on long distance wireless links? (http://lists.samba.org/archive/wireless/2002-September/001907.html)

Thanks to G00se for the above information!


Bittorent and Routers

OK , so I know from experience that configuring routers for Bittorent can be kind of confusing sometimes. Ports need to be opened, rules made etc. Here’s some info about configuring your routers to let BT run properly:

Another excellent resource for configuring routers is,

PortForward.com - Free Help Setting up Your Router or Firewall (http://portforward.com/)

The site covers a few extra brands that this tutorial doesn't. This site will also give you your internal IP address, which to say the least is a handy feature.


* For Models DI-514, DI-524, DI-604, DI-614+. DI-624, DI-704P (RevC), DI-754, DI-764, or DI-774:

D-Link TechSupport - Choose Your Country (http://support.dlink.com/faq/view.asp?prod_id=1347)

* For Models DI-704P (rev.B), DI-707P, DI-714P+, DI-804HV, DI-808HV, and DI-824VUP:

D-Link TechSupport - Choose Your Country (http://support.dlink.com/faq/view.asp?prod_id=1347#di704p)

* For Models DI-704P (revA), DI-704, DI-707, DI-711, DI-713, and DI-713P:

D-Link TechSupport - Choose Your Country (http://support.dlink.com/faq/view.asp?prod_id=1347#704)


* For Model BEFSR41. Not sure about compatibility with other models, but try it :

1) Go to
2) Username: admin
Password : admin (if it wasn't changed)
3) Click Advanced
4) Go to Forwarding
5) In an empty row, put in "Bittorrent"
6) Put 6881 to 6889 in the port range.
7) Check the TCP box
8) Put the IP address of your computer
9) Check the enable box
10) Click Apply


* For Model SMC 7004VWBR. Should work with some other models.

1) Go to
2) Type your username and password (manual)
3) Go to Advanced
4) Find Virtual server (sometimes located in the NAT section)
5) Put your IP address
6) Put a 6881 as service port (need a new line for each port)
7) Type is TCP and check Enabled
8) press Apply


* Model Netgear RT 314 (maybe other models) (from Tweaking your system to get the most out of BitTorrent (http://userpages.umbc.edu/~hamilton/btclientconfig.html))

1) Go to the web interface
2) go to Advanced
3) In an empty row, put 6881 in "Start port"
4) in the next clomn put 6889, and your IP address in the next column
5) click Apply

* Model Netgear RP114 (from Tweaking your system to get the most out of BitTorrent (http://userpages.umbc.edu/~hamilton/btclientconfig.html))

1) Put the IP address of your PC in the address bar
2) Go to 'Advanced' > 'Ports'
3) In the "Start Port" and "End Port" fields enter the port range (6881 to 6889),
4) In the "Server IP Address field" enter in the IP address of your PC.
5) click Apply.


* Should work with most models.

How do I open/forward ports on a Westell? AT&T Southeast Forum FAQ - dslreports.com (http://www.dslreports.com/faq/7074)

This is a guide on how generally to forward ports. Just remember to use the port range of 6881-6889 when using this guide


* For Model Nexland Router Pro100. Try it for other models.

BitTorrent on Nexland Pro100 (2) (http://www.ocworkbench.com/2004/guides/bittorrent/bittorrent-3.htm)

What Wireless Equipment?

Obviously this info is gunna change, but generally Linksys, Netgear, 3Com and D-Link WLAN kit is considered very good. All work well straight out of the box, are easy to set up and configure. Always check the relevant sites about compatibility and google for reviews……new drivers and firmware for any routers, AP’s and PCI cards are always recommend. It is worth checking the support sections of manufacturer’s sites to see about any known issues. Always read the manuals too when setting up equipment, it definitely helps, sometimes card drivers need to be installed b4 the card is, things like that, always check!




Taken from the sticky, thanks to 6thElement for these:

General Network information
PracticallyNetworked.com (http://www.practicallynetworked.com)
Networking Articles & Tips for Windows Server 2003, 2008 & Vista (http://www.wown.info)
SpeedGuide.net :: The Broadband Guide (http://www.speedguide.net/)

ICS - Internet Connection Sharing
PracticallyNetworked ICS HowTo Center (http://www.practicallynetworked.com/sharing/ics/ics.htm)

People that make assorted networking hardware (general list):
NETGEAR - Wireless routers, adapters, and other networking solutions for the home, smb, and broadservice Providers (http://www.netgear.com/)
Welcome to Linksys.com (http://www.linksys.com/)
Welcome to Linksys.com (http://www.linksys.com/)
D-Link | Welcome (http://www.dlink.com/)
Cisco Systems, Inc (http://www.cisco.com/)
SMC Networks - Power to Connect (http://www.smc.com)
3Com | Routers, Switches, VoIP, Wireless, Network Management (http://www.3com.com/)
SOHOWARE--Expert in Broadband Wireless MDU/MTU Solutions. (http://www.sohoware.com/) (Also has info about networking)