Overview of Wi-Fi Modes – WiFi Infrastructure Mode – Ad hoc Mode

Overview of WiFi modes

Wireless technology has change the way for us to connect to internet, local and remote computers, it has enabled the implementation of imagination beyond the limits. There are two most common modes by which we connect to Wi-Fi for connectivity for accessing internet or other computer for file sharing etc.

The most common modes for Wi-Fi connectivity are as follow:

– Infrastructure mode
– Ad hoc Mode

Infrastructure mode:

Infrastructure mode is one of the two methods for connecting to wireless networks with Wi-Fi enabled devices such as laptops, Pda’s I-phone etc. These devices are connected to wireless network with the help of Access point (AP). Wireless Access Points are usually routers or switches which are connected to internet by Ethernet port.

Wireless Access points are always required for infrastructure mode of wireless networking. It is necessary to use SSID while configuring AP, this SSID should be known to clients for their computers to connect WLAN. SSID is basically security key which help prevent UN authorized access to WLAN.  The Access point is then connected to wire network (Internet) to provide wireless internet connectivity to clients. Multiple access points can be added in the WLAN, this increases the reach of infrastructure for supporting many number of wireless clients.

Setting Up Infrastructure Mode :

Setting up infrastructure mode for wireless connectivity is not that hard, all we are require to follow number of steps which will do the job.

We need to make sure that Internet cable is plugged in Ethernet port, second step is to configure AP (Access point). is usually the access panel address. Write this URL at your Internet browser, username and password window will appear, default settings are usually, admin username and admin password. We name the connection name which will appear to all wireless devices, then we enable infrastructure mode and also assign SSID in the switch/router for it broadcast

Now we scan wireless adaptor to see if any wireless network is available to connect, when configured network is appear, click and connect and provide SSID information, here you should be able to connect to the network for internet browsing and file sharing.

Ad hoc Mode

There is another mode of connectivity available for Wi-Fi connectivity. This mode is known to be ad hoc mode.  By using ad hoc mode, devices are capable for communicating directly with each other. No Access point (routers / switches) is required for communication between devices and all devices in the range connect in peer to peer communication mode.

Setting up Ad hoc Mode

For setting up ad hoc mode, wireless adaptors of all devices are required to be configured manually at ad hoc mode instead of infrastructure mode. It is also important to use same channel name and configuring all wireless adaptors using same SSID for making connection live. Setting up ad hoc network

Limitation of Ad hoc mode

Ad hoc mode is best used for small number of devices which are physically present in close proximity with each other and as the number of devices grows performance of network suffers. Disconnections of random device may occur time to time and managing the network can be difficult task for administrator. There is another limitation associated with ad hoc mode that is, ad hoc mode networks cannot bridge to wire LANs and cannot access internet without installing special gateways.

Advantages of Ad hoc network mode

Ad hoc mode networks works fine in small environment, like building, homes etc. No extra hardware (Access point) is required to use ad hoc mode, therefore it reduces the cost. If devices have wireless network adapters in them already then that will do the job as far as building ad hoc networks is concern. Ad hoc can be useful as back up option for time being if network based on infrastructure mode and access points are malfunctioning.

Advantages of Infrastructure mode (comparison between Ad hoc and infrastructure)

If we are to compare ad hoc with infrastructure mode then infrastructure mode provide much more stability, scalability, ease of management and improved security. Ad hoc on the other hand does not provide security to that level and managing can be difficult incase of network growth. Performance suffers as we increase devices as well.

The only disadvantage associated with infrastructure mode is extra cost to for Access points (routers and switches).Compared to the alternative, ad-hoc wireless networks, infrastructure mode networks offer the advantage of scalability, centralized security management and improved reach. The disadvantage of infrastructure wireless networks is simply the additional cost to purchase AP hardware.