Wireless terms


There are a bunch of terms used in wireless networks that most people don’t know the difference or what they mean, so here goes.

AP - Access Point

AP or Access Point is the term for when a device like a router provides a wireless network for other devices to connect to.

This typically means that it sets the wireless name, the keys or passwords that will be used over the wireless network and most often provide dynamic IP addresses over it that it defines for that network.


Bridging is a term that creates a bridge over two networks, the wired and wireless networks so they will be treated as if they are the same network.


DHCP or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a communication sent from a router to a device on a network that tells it everything it needs to know.

Before DHCP, a network administrator would have to set the IP address and the route out of the network into every device, along with a bunch of servers that may be relevant on a network. For the Internet use, it provides the IP address and the route out to the Internet as well as the DNS servers. For corporate Windows users that have a server that users have to log into to use the computers, DHCP provides their computer with everything needed. 

There is even a section for computers without hard drives to provide the server which has the bootable system for their computer to boot over the network.


DSL or Digital Subscriber Line is a method of connecting to the Internet over a traditional telephone line.

Traditionally, Internet users would use a modem to dial up their Internet provider to get Internet access and when ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) first came about, broadband modems would dial the exchange to provide the connection. Your router has a modem inside that does exactly that for you. The speed of the connection is decided at the point of connection and during the connection. This is why a line speed may increase once the router has been left switched on for a while. ADSL benefits the provider because like with all modems in the past, the down speed is considerably faster than the up speed.

SDSL or Symmetric DSL uses a clock for timing, so both ends of the connection maintain the same speed all the time. This system is much more expensive because the speed is constant and both directions are the same speed.

VDSL or Very high speed DSL is the common system used with FTTC.

Enterprise Wi-Fi

There are two different systems of Wi-Fi available, they use the same hardware but are used in different ways.

The standard Wi-Fi is known as PSK or Pre Shared Key, and that means there is a code on the back of the router that is given out to every user, so everyone has the same code.

Enterprise Wi-Fi provides a unique username and password to every Wi-Fi user. If an employee leaves the company, their account can be cancelled and they lose access to the network. Enterprise Wi-Fi is considerably more secure than standard Wi-Fi and requires a special server called a RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In Service) server that provides both authentication and user accounting. A network administrator can use the server to find out when a user has logged in and how often.


FTTC or Fibre To The Cabinet and FTTP or Fibre To The Premises are two different ways to provide a fibre broadband connection.

FTTC enables a telephone provider to provide fibre to a cabinet in the street that contains equipment to provide a mini-exchange for your phone to call through and your router to dial and connect to.

FTTP involves a fibre optic cable to enter the property and then connect to a fibre converter box that turns this into an Ethernet connection for your router.


A Hotspot is typically a mobile device, either a phone or purpose made data only device that provides a wireless access point from the mobile phone network.

In other words, it converts a 4G network into something that more than one wireless device can connect to.


A modem (from Modulator Demodulator) is a device that typically converts digital information sent to computers and networks to analogue tones sent over telephone networks.

A wireless modem is a device that converts digital information into radio waves. These involve complicated encodings that increase the performance to send data over radio waves.


A repeater is designed to repeat the conversation that is being relayed to it, it is also known as a Signal Extender, because it extends the range of a weaker network so that it is extended over a greater distance.

However, there is a cost to extending the range, it halves the bandwidth available to devices in range of both parts of the network.


As the name suggests, a router routes information around a network. It is basically a computer that provides everything to connect you to the Internet, and contains a modem that provides an interface between your Internet and your network, be that wireless or wired.


WLAN or Wireless Local Area Network is basically the name for Wi-Fi.

Local Area Network defines a network of devices that are in your premises. This can be computers, printers, etc. As opposed to WAN or Wide Area Network which is how you connect to devices outside your LAN.

WPA, WEP, etc

Wireless networks when first implemented used an open network idea, where anyone could connect to a wireless network without any shared details.

WEP or Wired Equivalent Privacy was the first idea to provide a simple way to prevent people from logging into your network without permission. It is pretty much obsolete because it takes seconds to guess the WEP code on the network.

WPA or Wi-Fi Protected Access is a much more secure method of accessing a wireless network and over the years, there have been a series of weaknesses found in WPA, which lead to the improvements in WPA2 and now WPA3.

TKIP or Temporal Key Integrity Protocol was merely a wrapper around WEP to provide a more secure way to transmit the key on the network, but it used an encryption standard called RC4 to implement this, which turned out to have a load of vulnerabilities which meant it was easy to break the encryption, so AES encryption is now more often used as it is far more secure.

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