Wireless LAN

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Wireless LANs or WLANs are local area networks that use radio as their carrier.

See also Wireless PANs (personal area networks) and wireless networks.

Early development included industry-specific solutions and proprietary protocols, but at the end of the 1990s these were replaced by standards, primarily IEEE 802.11 (2 Mbit/s, intended for office use), HomeRF (2 Mbit/s, intended for home use), and IEEE 802.11b (11 Mbit/s). The latter was standardized in late 1999 and plenty of affordable products from several vendors started to appear in mid 2000. The standard operates in the license-free ISM band at 2.45 GHz. Products complying with this standard have quickly been adopted in offices, homes, and public installations such as cafes, university campuses, and libraries.

The availability of affordable and license-free wireless equipment has inspired several wireless community projects.

A forthcoming IEEE 802.11a standard that will operate in the likewise license-free ISM band at 5 GHz will deliver up to 54 Mbit/s.