Approval of the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless local area networking (WLAN) and rapid progress made toward higher data rates have put the promise of truly mobile computing within reach. While wired LANs have been a mainstream technology for at least fifteen years, WLANs are uncharted territory for most networking professionals. IEEE 802.11 is limited in scope to the Physical (PHY) layer and Medium Access Control (MAC) sublayer, with MAC origins to IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard. The following overview explains major differences between wired and wireless LANs and should answer some of the questions facing MIS professionals evaluating WLAN technology.

For more information on 802.11, visit Intersil’s Web site.