Wi-Fi Parlance Primer

If you are new to Wi-Fi networking, this section will equip you with 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 the 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. In practice, the use of the ad-hoc mode has ceased almost entirely. For this reason, our newer WA2000 Wi-Fi/BLE add-on module does not even support working with ad-hoc networks or creating own ad-hoc networks.  
  • SSID stands for Service Set Identifier. Simply put, the SSID is the name of a wireless network. In case of the infrastructure network, this name is preset on the access point during its configuration. More on this 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." For an access point, this is its MAC address on the Wi-Fi interface. For ad-hoc networks the BSSID is selected with certain randomness built in. For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSSID#Basic_service_set_identifier.
  • Channel. Wi-Fi devices operate on preset frequencies grouped into several frequency ranges or bands. Our original GA1000 Wi-Fi add-on module only supports the 2.4GHz band and only implements 802.11b/g standards. The WA2000 Wi-Fi/BLE add-on module supports both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz (802.11a) bands. Channel refers to the channel number, not the actual frequency used. Depending on the locale (domain), 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): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rssi
  • WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy, a 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 protocol. Tibbo devices support "personal" WPA protocols WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK. Learn about WPA here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Access. We are working on adding the support for WPA-enterprise protocols to our devices.