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Computer Hardware Is No Longer a Major Barrier to Wide Use of Wireless Information Systems

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Computer hardware is no longer a major barrier to wide use of wireless information systems. In today's world there are a number of wireless technologies that are available to connect a wide range of devices. You can wirelessly connect everything from your laptop to your television considering they are equipped with the necessary hardware. Many of these devices come with network adapters installed in the device. But if they don't, there are network adapters on the market that can make your device wireless in a matter of minutes. I will discuss some of the wireless hardware common to a standard Wi-Fi system.

The first piece of hardware is a network adapter, or network card. "Wireless network adapters enable devices to communicate with each other over Wi-Fi or other wireless networking protocols." (Mitchell, Wireless Adapter Cards, n.d.) Most laptop computers available on the market come with the wireless adapters built into the system. However, there are many add-on adapters available for purchase to wirelessly enable a device. The different forms of network adapters are; PCI adapter cards, PC adapter cards, USB network adapters, wireless Ethernet bridges, and wireless CompactFlash cards. PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) cards are "contained inside the computer" and "connects to the desktop's PCI Bus". (Mitchell, What hardware is required to build a wireless network?, n.d.) PC cards resemble credit cards and are placed into a slot on the side of a laptop computer to allow Wi-Fi antennas to transmit without interference. USB network adapters are an add-on feature that can make a computer wireless by simply plugging a USB cable into a USB port to join the adapter. "A wireless Ethernet bridge converts a wired Ethernet device for use on a wireless computer network. Wireless Ethernet bridges and USB adapters are both sometimes called wireless media adapters as they enable devices for Wi-Fi utilizing Ethernet or USB physical media." (Mitchell, Wireless Adapter Cards, n.d.) Network adapters are the only hardware required to operate a small wireless LAN. However, according to Mitchell (n.d.), to increase WLAN performance, and accommodate more computers, wireless access points or routers can be used.

"Wireless routers are the foundation of an all-wireless home WLAN. Home broadband routers based on the 802.11b or 802.11g standards combine the functions of a traditional switch, firewall, and wireless access point." (Mitchell, Wireless Routers, n.d.) Wireless routers, or access points, allow the computer to connect with an existing wired network through a modem. Wireless routers allow users to connect upwards of 32 wireless devices to a network without cluttering the home or office with a mess of wires. (Goodwin, 2010) Some wireless routers even come equipped with a modem simplifying things even further by making a broadband connection to your internet service provider. Wireless routers come in one of four 802.11 specifications, 802.11a/b/g or n depending on the client adapter of the computer being connected and other requirements of the WLAN. There are also dual band routers that simultaneously broadcast a 802.11b/g network as well as providing a 802.11a network for applications that demand greater bandwidth. (Goodwin, 2010)

The 802.11b specification offers the slowest data speeds out of all the 802.11 standards and was the first popular Wi-Fi technology, according to cnet.com's Wireless Resource Center. (anonymous, n.d.) The 802.11b supports 11Mbps(real-world about 5Mbps) and operates on the 2.4GHz band. Besides the slow data speeds, another problem of the 802.11b standard is interference from other devices.

The 802.11g specification also operates on the 2.4GHz band and according to cnet.com, is the most commonly used Wi-Fi standard. (anonymous, n.d.) The 802.11g standard

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