Wi-Fi Parlance Primer

Top  Previous  Next

If you are new to Wi-Fi networking, this section will give you a bit of knowledge on the highly specialized jargon used in the Wi-Fi world. We also provided useful links that will lead you to a lot more info on the subject.

Here are the abbreviations and terms that are used in the Wi-Fi world:

BSS stands for Basic Service Set (ah, now it is clear!). In simple words, this is a wireless network created by a single access point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_access_point), but not always. It all depends on the...
BSS mode. Wi-Fi networks can operate in either the infrastructure mode, or ad-hoc mode. In the infrastructure mode, a wireless access point is used to create, control and regulate the network. In the ad-hoc mode, there is no access point and wireless devices communicate directly with each other. This is called "IBSS" (Independent Basic Service Set), more on this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Basic_Service_Set.
SSID stands for Service Set Identifier. In simple words, the SSID is a name of the wireless network. In case of the infrastructure network, this name is preset on the access point during its configuration. You can read more on SSIDs here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSSID#Service_set_identifier_.28SSID.29.
BSSID stands for Basic Service Set Identifier. This is the "MAC address of the wireless network". When your network is built on the access point, this is the MAC address of this access point. For ad-hoc networks the BSSID is selected with certain randomness built in. More on this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSSID#Basic_service_set_identifier.
Channel. Wi-Fi devices operate on one of 14 preset frequencies. Channel refers to the channel number, not the actual frequency used. Depending on the locale, you can be restricted to fewer channels: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels
RSSI. Stands for Received Signal Strength Indication. This is a measure of the quality of RF signal received from the wireless network (or peer). More on this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rssi
WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy, a widely used method of protecting Wi-Fi networks from eavesdropping and unauthorized access. The name carries a bit of a wishful thinking, as it has been clearly demonstrated that WEP is rather weak and can be easily defeated. Read on here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wired_Equivalent_Privacy.
WPA means Wi-Fi Protected Access. This is a security protocol that exists in two versions — WPA and WPA2. WPA was developed in response to serious weaknesses discovered in the WEP standard. Tibbo devices support "personal" WPA protocols WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK. Read about WPA here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Access.