Wireless Network Infrastructure
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The following are examples of the basic components found in wireless network infrastructure:
Components of wireless network infrastructure
Wireless devices can use access points to connect to a wired network. It is easier to install access points within a wired network to connect all the computers or devices than to create connections using wires and cables.
Wireless access points are essential to enable wireless network connectivity. The type of access point an organization uses will depend on its specific needs. For example:
- On-premises access points are often the go-to option for businesses that have extensive security requirements and need to customize their wireless network infrastructure.
- Cloud-managed access points are designed for organizations that want to set up fast, reliable Wi-Fi connectivity that’s easy to manage.
Wi-Fi 6 access points
Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of the Wi-Fi standard. Wi-Fi 6 enables enterprises and service providers to support new and emerging applications on the same wireless infrastructure, while delivering a higher grade of service to older applications. The shift to Wi-Fi 6 sets the stage for new business models and increased Wi-Fi adoption. Some organizations are already using Wi-Fi 6 access points.
Switches are key building blocks for networks. When there are too many devices—such as computers, access points, printers, and servers—on the same network, traffic on the network becomes congested and the flow of data slows. Switches help solve these issues by breaking the overall network into smaller groups so that local traffic in one area doesn’t affect local traffic in another area.
Ethernet switches and Wi-Fi 6
The only wireless part of a wireless network is the connection from the end device to the nearest access point. Beyond that, all data flows through Ethernet cables and switches to connect to the rest of the network.
As the number of wireless devices grows and the amount of data generated by the applications used on those devices increases, bandwidth to support the access points must increase. The Wi-Fi 6 standard quadrupled the bandwidth per access point.
When upgrading access points, organizations should consider upgrading their Ethernet switches and make sure the switches can support the increased traffic.
Switches group devices into separate networks. Routers and edge routing platforms provide the connections between networks.
Routers and edge platforms are deployed to connect campus and branch locations and colocation facilities to the internet and public cloud. These routing devices can provide various connectivity options such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) lines, internet options such as broadband and cellular, as well as software-defined cloud interconnect (SDCI) links.
Routers and edge routing platforms make decisions about the most optimal path to achieving a high application quality of experience from source to destination. These devices can also play an important role in applying security policies to data, so that traffic only goes where it is permitted and is inspected for malicious threats.
A wireless router, or Wi-Fi router, combines the functions of a router and a wireless access point. Wireless routers are commonly used in smaller branch and home office networks, so workers in those locations can connect to the internet and the company network from one device in a small form factor.
A cellular gateway can enable a router or edge platform to use 4G and 5G cellular links for WAN or wireless WAN connectivity. Cellular gateways plug into the router or edge platform Ethernet port. These gateways can provide multigigabit connections. Sometimes, they can be managed in a cloud console if there is a compatible SD-WAN product.
The wireless network infrastructure of an enterprise includes a wireless LAN (WLAN) controller. A WLAN architecture enables users in the enterprise to maintain their network connection while moving around the wireless coverage area, like in an office. The WLAN controller manages the access points that allow wireless devices to connect to the company’s network.