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802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition by Matthew S. Gast

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Chapter 20. Using 802.11 Access Points

In even the simplest 802.11 network, proper configuration of the access points is essential. Without properly configured network interfaces, no traffic will be bridged on to the wired network.

In the early days of 802.11, access points were simple devices. They had a pair of interfaces, and connected wireless devices to an existing wired LAN. Early APs were bridges between the wireless and wired realms, with few additional features. When the first generation of wireless LAN products hit the market, there was a broad separation into cheaper home gateways and expensive business-class products. Products in both classes performed the same functions, although the latter typically used higher-capacity components to provide flexibility and investment protection, as well as the first crude large-scale management tools.

At the dawn of 802.11, APs were initially standalone independent devices. In the early days, wireless LANs offered the ability to have untethered access, but lacked serious security and management capabilities. Although these islands of networking occasionally communicated with each other, they were not often used as part of a large-scale network system because the protocols to enable them to do so had not been developed or tested on a large scale. As wireless networks became more popular and grew larger, flaws in the traditional standalone access point model became apparent.

Sensing a market opportunity, several vendors have built a second ...

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