Chapter 8. Management Operations
While being untethered from a wired network can be an advantage, it can lead to problems: the medium is unreliable, unauthorized users can take advantage of the lack of physical boundaries, and power consumption is critical when devices are running on batteries. The management features of the 802.11 protocol were designed to reduce the effect of these problems. In essence, management operations are all the behind-the-scenes tasks that wireless network devices perform so that the wireless link looks much like other types of network connections.
802.11 management is a cooperative affair, shared between client devices and the network infrastructure. Unfortunately, this leaves a great deal of the protocol operation in the hands of devices that may vary greatly. Some device drivers allow you to customize the management features discussed in this chapter. Keep in mind, though, that the capabilities of the device driver vary from one product to another, and the state of wireless networking is such that some vendors are trying to produce the most feature-rich products possible, while others are aiming at a lower-cost market and trying to produce the simplest products. The only way to know what is possible is to understand the capabilities that have been built into the protocol. Then you’ll be in a good position to work with whatever hardware drops in your lap.
Conceptually, the 802.11 management architecture is composed of three components: ...