Wireless network components are used to build new wireless networks or replace devices within an existing wireless network. A wireless network is comprised of a wireless access point that connects to an existing Internet connection, allowing several devices to communicate with each other. There are several major categories of wireless network components, including wireless networking equipment and wireless routers.
Wireless networking equipment includes wireless hubs, switches, routers, and cards. Each type of wireless networking component use an Ethernet connection to interface with a computer, printer, or other wired devices. Most desktop and laptop computers come with built-in Ethernet adapters and simply need to be connected to a dial-up, cable, or DSL modem. A wired computer can be connected to a modem through a wireless hub or wireless switch instead, to create a wireless network.
Wireless networking routers are wireless networking components that act as a gateway between an Internet connection, such as a cable modem, and a wireless network. Broadband routers are a combination of an access point and a switch, usually consisting of four Ethernet ports to allow more devices on the network, such as a printer, and a wide area network (WAN) port for the broadband connection. Broadband wireless routers include built-in dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) servers, which automatically assign IP addresses to each device connected to the router. The benefit of a wireless networking router over a wireless hub is the multiple connection capability and additional security features, such as a firewall.
Most computers produced today come with built-in wireless adapters that automatically detect a wireless network. Older computers can be outfitted with wireless network components such as a wireless networking card. Wireless networking cards detect and interface with a wireless network and come in a variety of networking standards.
Broadband wireless networking can also include more sophisticated, enterprise-level networks. These networks involve the configuration of wireless network components such as switches and routers and high-speed Internet connections into more stable and secure network topologies than a home or small office network. Other wireless networking solutions are also available.