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Wireless Glossary of Terms


WLAN - Wireless Local-Area Network. A wirelessly connected LAN, such as an 802.11 network. Uses radio frequency technology to transmit network messages through the air for relatively short distances, like across an office building or college campus.

Bandwidth - The size of a network "pipe" or channel for communications. Usually measured in Bits Per Second (BPS or MB/s)

Access Point - Wirelessly networked devices usually connect to a wired LAN through a hardware device called an access point. Multiple access points, set up in various locations around an office, let users roam from office to conference room to coworker's cubicle while staying connected. An access point can also be one of the capabilities offered by a gateway or other networking device.

NIC - Network Interface Card. An adapter inside a computer that lets the computer connect to a network via a wired or wireless transmission medium.

SSID - Service Set Identifier. Every wireless network or network subset (such as a BSS, ESS, or IBSS) has a unique identifier called an SSID (and may be called a BSSID, ESSID, and so on, depending on what it is identifying). Every device connected to that part of the network uses the same SSID to identify itself as part of the family, so to speak, when it wants to gain access to the network or verify the origin of a data packet it's sending over the network. Using SSID carries some security risk, however, because it can be detected by wardrivers and used to gain unauthorized access. Some network administrators, therefore, disable SSID.

Client - Wireless device that accesses the WLAN. Can be a computer, PDA, or other hand-held device with a wireless connection.

Authentication - The process a station uses to announce its identify to another station. IEEE 802.11 specifies two forms of authentication: open system and shared key. In security systems, authentication is distinct from authorization , which is the process of giving individuals access to system objects based on their identity.

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. TCP/IP is the method by which data is sent across the Internet. These two protocols were developed by the U.S. military to allow computers to talk to each other over long-distance networks

WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy. All 802.11b (Wi-Fi) networks use WEP as their basic security protocol. WEP secures data transmissions using 64-bit or 128-bit encryption; however, it does not offer complete security and is usually used in conjunction with other security measures such as EAP.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) - Set of protocols that lets users of mobile phones and other digital wireless devices access Internet content, check voice mail and e-mail, receive text of faxes and conduct transactions.

IEEE 802.11
Specifies the standards used between a wireless client and a base station or between two wireless clients. IEEE 802.11a -- an add on to 802.11 that applies to wireless LANs and provides up to 54 Mbps in the 5GHz band. IEEE 802.11b (also referred to as 802.11 High Rate or Wi-Fi) -- an add on to 802.11 that applies to wireless LANS and provides 11 Mbps transmission (all includes 5.5, 2 and 1 Mbps) in the 2.4 GHz band. 802.11g -- applies to wireless LANs and provides 20+ Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band.

IP(Internet Protocol) - Method for sending and receiving data between computers on the Internet. Splits the file or message into packets. Used along with TCP.

IP Address
32-bit number that identifies each sender or receiver of information that is sent in packets across the Internet. Unique to each computer on the Internet.


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