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What is a Wireless Bridge?

written by: NormDickinson•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/22/2009

Wireless bridges are a convenient way to to connect two or more LAN segments without running an Ethernet cable between the two segments but using the ports to connect the two separate LANs.

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    What is a Wireless Bridge?

    A wireless bridge may be defined as a hardware device or the fundamental LAN component through which various LANs are connected via wireless link in which the different LAN segments are pre-specified before connecting. Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and some other operating systems also offer various software packages to do this bridging and support the entire network in a LAN environment. In all such cases, the computer forms the nucleus for bridging system software. IT professionals generally resent using the term "wireless bridge" and favor instead the more technical term "Wireless LAN to LAN Bridge."

    Although the wireless bridge concept may sound new or recent, this is pretty old with wired networks. There is no denying that wireless bridges are a very simple, practical, and inexpensive way to connect Ethernet LANs.

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    Purpose of Wireless LAN Bridge and Bridge Connectivity

    One could use a wireless bridge to conveniently connect computers located in one part of the building to computers in a different part of the building without running an Ethernet cable between the two places.

    There are ports on LAN Bridges which connect different ready-to-use LANs in a location. Once the bridge is set up, the data is transmitted through small packets and are received on these ports. One of the ports receives data packets for the LAN Bridge and then re-transmits these packets to any other port. The bridge will allow re-transmission to take place only after receiving a complete packet. This helps bridge stations transmit data (packets) conveniently without any system conflict.

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    Repeater Mode and Access Point in Wireless Bridge

    In a wireless bridge, there are wireless routers and access points which enhance bridging with different protocol types. In this whole system, IT professionals often use a term called "repeater mode" which performs the bridging function by specifying protocols. Repeater mode relays the same protocol (specified) type every time, whereas wireless bridge mode uses the connectivity function of different protocol types. To be more specific, repeater mode only supports the extension of a single wireless LAN in the same signal range. But more importantly, it is necessary to understand the functioning of wireless bridging in terms of access points since repeater mode is only for applying variations to the overall connectivity and LAN signal.

    The wireless bridging connectivity system is not a complex system, but a novice could initially become confused in understanding the connectivity points and access point specifications if acquainted with the wireless LAN infrastructures. To help understand the overall system effectively, a few of these points can get you off to a good start:

    • Locate access points (AP) which are the fundamental components of a wireless LAN Bridge.
    • The access point is generally the communication hub through which the wireless network supports the connectivity of wireless device to a wired network like Ethernet cable network.
    • In a wireless bridge there are two types of connection: One access point to one access point connection and one access point to multiple access point connection. Simply put – a one-point-another-point connection and a one-point-to-several-points connection.
    • Last but not least, understanding access points becomes extremely important especially when the concern is about wireless security and the question is about user access control in a signal-oriented environment.

    While operating in bridging mode, wireless APs tend to make use of a substantial amount of bandwidth. Fortunately, the frequency bands for these wireless standards can be used without licence formalities in many parts of the world.

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    Wireless Bridge Monitoring in a Wireless Sensor Network

    Wireless Bridges are often complex in set up, and they typically need an effective monitoring and tracking system that should take care of varying environmental or physical conditions according to location specifications. Wireless bridge monitors use special nodes called "sensor nodes" and establish a network called a "wireless sensor network." In other words, wireless sensor is often deployed or incorporated as wireless monitor in a wireless bridge technology with the help of any wireless communication device like radio. The technical principle which is applied here is the principle of synchronization of computational science with physical science elements. Computational applications of data redundancy and real-time response are usually utilized in monitoring any physical phenomenon.

    However, the conventional engineering aspect of wireless bridging is given preference over computational or IT aspect. You can find in a number of places like Houston, San Francisco, and New York that wireless network hardware component manufacturers are at the forefront whenever the talk is about wireless bridge set up and monitoring. So the whole wireless bridge technology can be touted as the most effective blend of statistical applications and mathematical deductions.