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WiFi Terminology

Every WiFi term, explained

  • A

    Access Control List (ACL) :

    An access control list is a list of IP addresses or domains that defines which network traffic is allowed.

    Access Journey :

    An access journey is the user transaction through a captive portal to access a WiFi network.

    Access Point (AP) :

    An access point is any item of access hardware (including signal boosters and repeaters) in a physical space, through which a user may access the internet.

    Ad Hoc Mode :

    Ad hoc mode is a peer to peer mode of networking using WiFi networking but no access point. Ad hoc networks can include more than two devices.

    Authentication :

    A user may be required to authenticate to a WiFi network before it can pass data between itself and other hosts. Authentication may require a username and password or a pre-shared key.

  • B

    Backscatter Networking :

    Backscatter networks operate by re-modulating ambient wireless signals, such as WiFi. Backscatter networks can send data with very low power consumption, perhaps 10 times less than transmitting directly.

    Bandwidth :

    Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually a second). Learn more about bandwidth.

    Basic Service Set Identifier (BSSID) :

    A basic service set identifier is the MAC address of a wireless access point.

    Bridge :

    A bridge is a network device that interconnects two dissimilar network types. An AP can act as a bridge between the wired and wireless networks, but can also serve as a wireless connection between two wired segments.

  • C

    Captive Network Assistant (CNA) :

    Captive network assistant is an application layer embedded in an operating system designed to manage a users transactions with a captive portal.

    Captive Portal :

    A captive portal is a process running on an access point that can redirect users who have associated to a web page so that they can agree to terms of service, purchase access or enter a password to access the WiFi.

    Channel :

    A channel is the network path for wireless transmissions. Each WiFi standard has numerous channels, each of which is a central frequency.

    Closed Network :

    A closed network requires users to have authentication information before they can access the WiFi network.

  • D

    Demographic Data :

    Data relating to the characteristics of WiFi users.

    Devices :

    Devices is the name attributed to any object made or adapted to connect to WiFi.

    Diversity :

    Diversity is the process of using multiple antennae to reduce interference and improve both transmission and reception of signals.

    Domain Name Service (DNS) :

    The DNS translates the plain-English URLs into the numerical IP address for the server that the website resides on.

    Duration :

    Duration is the period of time a user’s device stays connected to WiFi.

    Dwell :

    Dwell is the length of time that a WiFi user spends connected to WiFi.

  • E

    End :

    End is the time which the user’s devices was last seen or disconnected from the WiFi network.

    End Customer Access Page :

    See offline splash-page.

    Enhanced Wireless Location Tracking :

    A key trend in the wireless domain is for wireless communications systems to sense the location of devices connected to them. This has always been possible to some extent (for example, using beacons, trilateration or fingerprinting), but wireless standards will increasingly include precise location tracking as part of their core functions.

    Ethernet :

    Ethernet is the most pervasive connection type for wired networking. Available in speeds from 10mbps all the way up yo 10,000mbps (10gbit). The most common wire used for Ethernet networking is Cat5 (Category 5) and the connectors used are RJ45, slightly larger than the RJ11 connectors used by phones, but the same shape.

    Extended Server Set (ESS) :

    An extended service set is a network with two or more APs working cooperatively. They share access to the same VLAN, use the same SSID, and can support fast hand-off between users that move from the coverage range of one AP to another.

    Extended Service Set Identifiers (ESSID) :

    The extended service set identifier is the ‘name’ of the wireless network, and is used by all APs that provide access to the same infrastructure in an ESS. It can be advertised by APs in their beacons, or suppressed so that users must ‘know’ the ESSID before associating with an AP.

  • F

    Firewall :

    A firewall is an added layer of Internet security provided by the router.

  • G

    Guest WiFi :

    Guest WiFi is a public WiFi network within a venue or public space in which users can connect. Learn more about guest WiFi.

  • H

    Hotspot :

    A hotspot is an access point set up specifically to provide internet access to users.

  • I

    IP Address :

    An IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.

    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) :

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is an organization that sets the hardware standards for computer networks.

  • L

    Local Area Network (LAN) :

    A local area network is a small network that’s confined to a local area, e.g. home or office network.

    Location Analytics :

    Location analytics is the process or the ability to gain valuable location data from a user’s device to provide in-depth analytics.

    Location Based Services (LBS) :

    Location based services use real-time geo-data from a user’s device to provide in-depth analytics around how the user moves throughout the venue.

    Location Data :

    Location data is data that describes a geographic location.

    Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) :

    Low-power wide-area networks provide low bandwidth connectivity for IoT applications in a power-efficient way to support “things” that need a long battery life.

  • M

    MAC Address Filtering :

    MAC address filtering is an approach to restricting access to a wireless network by only permitting users to connect if their MAC address is on a pre-approved list.

    MAC Authentication :

    MAC authentication is authentication based on the MAC address the user presents to the network.

    Media Access Control Address (MAC Address) :

    A media access control address is a unique identifier assigned to network interface controllers for communications at the data link layer of a network segment. MAC addresses are used as a network address for most IEEE 802 network technologies, including Ethernet and WiFi.

    Millimeter Wave Wireless :

    Millimeter wave (mm wave) wireless operates at frequencies in the range of 30 GHz to 300 GHz, with wavelengths in the range of 1 to 10 millimeters. Millimeter wave will support shortrange, high-bandwidth communications and sensing applications, and will be exploited by wireless systems, such as WiFi and 5G.

    Multiple Input/ Multiple Output (MIMO) :

    Multiple input/ multiple output is signaling that uses several transceivers and antennae to improve the range of the wireless network. Both APs and users can use MIMO, though it is most often a feature of APs.

  • N

    Near Field Communication (NFC) :

    Near field communication is a technology used with mobile devices to exchange data based on proximity, or even physical contact.

    Network Name :

    See SSID.

  • O

    Offline Splash-Page :

    An offline splash page is the pre-authentication splash page presented to users before they access the WiFi network.

    Online Splash-Page :

    An online splash page is the post-authentication splash page presented as a redirection once the authentication is complete and the user is connected.

    Open Network :

    An open network is an open wireless network that permits association and authentication without requiring a passphrase, certificate, or credentials. Open networks are often called hotspots and provide free Internet access to anyone within range.

  • P

    Ping :

    Ping is the signal sent from a user device to other nearby devices. For example, a mobile phone to an access point. The response time of the connection between these devices is used to determine the seen time for presence data.

  • R

    RSSI_Max :

    RSSI_max is the metric for the strongest signal strength when the user’s device is connected or seen at the venue.

    RSSI_Min :

    RSSI_min is the metric for the weakest signal strength when the user’s device is connected or seen at the venue.

    Range :

    Range is the distance between an AP and a users device (or between two APs) over which WiFi transmissions can be successful. The greater the range, the greater the attenuation of a signal and the lower the overall throughput will be.

    Repeater :

    A repeater is a wireless network device that receives signals and re-transmits them, without providing direct access to the wired network. Repeaters are typically used to increase the range wireless networks can cover.

    Roaming :

    Roaming is the process of allowing a user who has has established a session on the network to move between multiple access points within a network; maintaining the best available connectivity from multiple access points rather than dropping and reconnecting as the users moves through the venue.

    Rogue :

    A rogue user is one that attempts or succeeds in accessing a wireless network without authority to do so. A rogue AP is one installed onto the wired network without authority, and can be a maliciously placed device by someone attempting to penetrate the network, or by a non-malicious user who simply wanted to get wireless access to the wired network but did not involve IT or go through appropriate processes.

    Router :

    A router is a network device that forwards data packets from one network to another.

  • S

    Seamless Login :

    Seamless login is a technology which allows devices to maintain connectivity when roaming between associated WiFi networks. A user will be automatically authorized via credentials held on their device rather than having to login again when they re-visit a venue.

    Service Set Identifier (SSID) :

    Service set identifier is the defined name of the WiFi network that is broadcast from a WiFi enabled router or access point.

    Social WiFi :

    Social WiFi allows users to access a public WiFi network using existing social media credentials for a particular social media platform. Learn more about social WiFi.

  • T

    Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) :

    Trivial file transfer protocol is a method of file transfer that is utilized to set firmware to a router.

  • V

    Virtual LAN (VLAN) :

    A virtual LAN (Local Area Network) is a logical sub-network that can group together a collection of devices from different physical LANs.

  • W

    WiFi :

    WiFi simply means wireless network. WiFi is a facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area.

    WiFi Analytics :

    WiFi analytics is the process of collecting customer data via guest WiFi. Data can include name, contact details, gender, date of birth, hometown, footfall, dwell, frequency of visits and more. Learn more about WiFi analytics.

    WiFi Marketing :

    WiFi marketing is the process of using data collected via WiFi analytics to market to customers. Learn more about WiFi marketing.

    WiFi Positioning System (WPS):

    WiFi positioning system or WiPS/WFPS is a geolocation system that uses the characteristics of nearby WiFi hotspots and other wireless access points to discover where a device is located.

    Wide Area Network (WAN) :

    Wide area network is the link to wider internet access. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (see LAN).

    Wireless Sensing :

    The absorption and reflection of wireless signals can be used for sensing purposes, sometimes combining communications and sensing in the same system.

    Workgroup Bridge :

    A workgroup bridge is a pair of APs that provide connectivity between two different wireless segments.

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