Wireless Networks in Simple Terms WLAN and Wi-Fi defined

What is Wi-Fi?The term Wi-Fi is often used as a synonym for wireless local area network (WLAN). Specifically the term "Wi-Fi" is a trademark of a trade association known as the Wi-Fi Alliance. From a technical perspective WLAN technology is defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

In computer networking everything starts with the physical layer, which for many years was a copper wire. The physical layer was expanded to include anything that represent the wire, such as fiber optic cable, infrared or radio spectrum technology.

Wireless network refers to any type of computer network that is not connected by cables of any kind. While cell phone technology is often discussed as a form of wireless networking, it is not the same as the wireless local area network (WLAN) technology discussed here.

The Internet Family of Protocols The TCP/IP protocol suite

TCP/IP protocol suite graphiicThe Internet Model of computer networking is not merely a reduced version of the OSI Reference Model with a straight line comparison of the four layers of the TCP/IP model to seven layers of the OSI model, as we explain here, and in the next page on the difference between the Internet and OSI reference model

The Internet protocol suite commonly known as TCP/IP is a set of communications protocols used for the Internet and similar networks. TCP/IP is not a single protocol, but rather an entire family of protocols.

The network concept of protocols establishes a set of rules for each system to speak the others language in order for them to communicate. Protocols describe both the format that a message must take as well as the way in which messages are exchanged between computers.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), were the first two members of the family to be defined, consider them the parents of the family. Protocol stack describes a layered set of protocols working together to provide a set of network functions. Each protocol/layer services the layer above by using the layer below.

What is the difference between the Internet and OSI reference model

Photo: Interface Message Processor (IMP) ARPANET packet routingWhen learning computer networking it is essential to have a general idea of the different computer networking reference models and the reasoning behind the layered approach. Both the TCP/IP network model and the OSI Model create a reference model for computer networking. The OSI model is widely used to teach students as was created in the mindset of a reference book. The TCP/IP standards were created to provide guidance to people actually implementing a networking technology and was created in the mindset of a service manual. Much like the answer to the question of why was the internet created, the answer to why do we need the OSI model depends on who you ask. Here at try to explain the basics of the OSI model as it relates to understanding basic computer networking.

The Internet and the TCP/IP family of protocols evolved separately from the OSI model. Often you find teachers, and websites, making direct comparison of the different models. Don't get too hung up on drawing direct comparisons between the two models. Our discussion here on the two networking reference models is address some commonly asked questions, and give some historical perspective as to how the models have evolved.


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