Chapter 18. 802.11 on the Macintosh

Apple Computer has been a key player in establishing the market for 802.11 equipment. Most companies in the 802.11 market saw their contributions in terms of standards committee activity and technology development. Apple contributed by distilling complex technology into an easy-to-use form factor and applying its mass- marketing expertise.

In 1999, 802.11 was a promising technology that had demonstrated its value in a few narrow markets. 802.11 interfaces cost around $300, and access points were around $1,000. Apple saw the promise in the technology and moved aggressively, releasing $300 access points and $99 interfaces. With a new competitor suddenly pricing the gear at a third of the prevailing price, other vendors were forced to drop prices dramatically, and the market took off. Prices have been dropping ever since.

Apple’s cards are branded with the name AirPort. AirPort refers to the first-generation 802.11b network interfaces, while AirPort Extreme is used to refer to newer 802.11g-based hardware. (Due to a focus on small offices and home offices, Apple does not sell 802.11a hardware.) This chapter discusses only the AirPort Extreme hardware, although the differences in configuration and management are vanishingly small. In addition to easy configuration of the wireless interface, the Apple 802.1X supplicant is the easiest to configure. The 802.1X supplicant was included for the first time in OS X 10.3, better known to most of the world by ...

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