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wireless home network

A Wi-Fi network in the home. See wireless router.



wireless router

A hardware device that provides the basic infrastructure for a home or small office network. By combining three network components in one box, wireless routers offer a convenient way to connect a small number of wired and any number of wireless devices to each other for access to the Internet as well as for file sharing and printing.

All in One: Access Point, Switch and Router
The access point is the base station and antenna that transmits and receives Wi-Fi signals. The switch interconnects any number of Wi-Fi devices and from three to four wired devices via Ethernet cables. The router forwards and receives Internet traffic via the user's modem, which connects to a line from the cable or telephone company.

In some small offices, but mostly in the larger company, these three components are dedicated units. The Wi-Fi access point, Ethernet switch and router interact with each other but are all separate devices. See access point, Ethernet switch, wired router and router.

Assign and Keep Track
A major function of the router is to assign an IP address to the computers and devices in the network (see DHCP). Another important task is keeping track of all queries to the Internet in order to forward the response back to the device that made the request (see NAT).

Also a Firewall
The router attempts to prevent unrequested traffic from coming into the network. Most wireless routers contain a stateful inspection firewall that ensures packets (Web pages, email, etc.) coming from the Internet were requested by a user. Because the router is the only path to the Internet, the firewall works for all computers in the network, and personal firewalls in each machine may be turned off (see firewall and firewall methods). See modem vs. router, wireless LAN, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi hotspot, cellular hotspot, Wi-Fi extender, Ethernet switch, router and WPAN.








Wireless Router Ports
The four ports are the Ethernet switch; the green router port connects to the modem, and the antennas are part of the Wi-Fi access point. Although many consumer wireless routers hide the antennas, industrial-rated access points use external antennas. (Image courtesy of Belkin Corporation, www.belkin.com)






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