wireless LAN (WLAN or Wireless Local Area Network) definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Mapping your wireless local area network: How to make your WLAN shine

A wireless LAN (or WLAN, for wireless local area network, sometimes referred to as LAWN, for local area wireless network) is one in which a mobile user can connect to a local area network (LAN) through a wireless (radio) connection. The IEEE 802.11 group of standards specify the technologies for wireless LANs. 802.11 standards use the Ethernet protocol and CSMA/CA (carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance) for path sharing and include an encryption method, the Wired Equivalent Privacy algorithm.

High-bandwidth allocation for wireless will make possible a relatively low-cost wiring of classrooms in the United States. A similar frequency allocation has been made in Europe. Hospitals and businesses are also expected to install wireless LAN systems where existing LANs are not already in place.

Using technology from the Symbionics Networks, Ltd., a wireless LAN adapter can be made to fit on a Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association (PCMCIA) card for a laptop or notebook computer


This was first published in November 2010

Next Steps

Discover how to choose the best WIPS system for protecting your wireless LAN.

Learn how WIPS can protect wireless local area networks.

In this Buying Decisions series, learn how to buy locally managed WLAN products and cloud-controlled wireless LAN products, how to make the business case for cloud-managed WLAN, and how to determine which cloud-controlled WLAN products are the best for you.

Cisco wireless LAN controllers are compatible with many organizations. Learn more about Cisco WLCs in this series. Other products reviewed in this product overview series include: Aerohive HiveManager, Cisco's Aironet wireless access point, Aruba's wireless controller and wireless access points (APs), Meraki's wireless APs, and Ruckus Zone.

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