Wireless Terminology

Access Point

A single wireless ethernet device serving a small area (generally no more than 150 feet in most cases). The access point, the "starting point" for the service, functions as a bridge between the radio (air) and the wired network. It is through the access point that the radio card in the laptop finds a path to the Penn State intranet and other Internet connected resources.

At Penn State, wireless access points are installed to connect to the Integrated Backbone service within each building. The access points broadcast a signal to the surrounding area via airwaves. Any wireless capable laptop within that area can receive the signal and communicate with the access point, and through it, with the rest of the network.

Administrative Contact

A person identified for an organization, responsible for administrative and policy concerns for the machines using an assigned subnet. This person also acts as the secondary contact with OVPIT for changes in the domain name system.

IEEE 802.11x

IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a standards body that promotes design specifications to ensure compatibility between different manufacturer's products. 802.11x is the IEEE designation for the particular kind of wireless networking technology that is being used for Penn State's wireless LAN service.

Radio Airwaves

Penn State Wireless uses radio air waves, instead of traditional wires, to connect a computer to the University network and the Internet. Penn State Wireless is not intended as a replacement for the campus wired infrastructure.

Security Contact

A person identified for an organization, responsible for security matters for an assigned subnet such as representing the organization at computer and network security meetings and insuring that University computer and network security policies are followed.

Technical Contact

A person identified for an organization, responsible for the technical matter for an assigned subnet such as assigning the host part of the Internet address, and also acts as the primary contact with OVPIT for changes in the domain name system.

Wireless LAN Adapters

Penn State Wireless is designed for use by wireless capable laptops such as those that have either a built-in wireless chipset or a wireless network interface card (NIC), which fit into the PCMCIA card slots of laptops.

These wireless LAN adapters provide an interface between the laptop's network operating system (NOS) and the airwaves. The wireless adapters are similar to Ethernet cards, but with a built-in radio antenna that communicates with access points. The nature of the wireless connection is transparent to the NOS. Because of this, applications work the same as they do on wired LANs having similar performance capabilities.