A WLAN allows devices to connect and communicate without using wires or cables. But in the traditional wired LAN devices communicate over Ethernet cables. Both WLAN and LAN share a similar origin. The IEEE has chosen the 802 network standards for LAN/MAN portfolios of computer network architecture. The two main 802 standards are 802.3 Ethernet and 802.11 WLAN. Though, there are significant differences between both. Wireless LANs use Radio Frequencies instead of cables at the physical layer and MAC sublayer of the data link layer. The main differences between WLAN and LAN are as under:
- The first difference between both is that 802.13 uses Ethernet cable but 802.11 uses RF waves. The RF allows data frames travelling without wire and available to anyone who can receive the RF signal.
- RF is insecure from outside signals, but the cable is in an insulating sheath. Radios working alone in the same geographic area, but using the same or a similar RF can interfere with each other. The signal varies as it reflects, refracts and lost depending on the environment.
- In the WLAN when the RF signal travels further away from the source, radio stations could start playing over each other and static noise increases. Finally, the signal is lost. But LANs have cables with appropriate length to maintain signal strength.
- Wireless LAN is more susceptible to attacks because it is more exciting. But in the LAN, attacks depend on whom and what was installed into devices as well as what is being connected.
- The use of Wireless LANs is a question to additional regulations and sets of standards that are not applied to wire LANs.
- Wireless APs and wireless Routers have a limit of several users connected to a single Wireless Router depending on the type of Wireless Router. But LAN depends on the number of Ethernet ports that a router or a switch has. We can increase the number of port adding additional switches.
- WLAN 802.11 advised collision-avoidance (CSMA/CA) instead of collision-detection (CSMA/CD) for media access to dynamically avoid collisions within the media.
- The frame format of WLANs is different than wired Ethernet LANs. So, WLANs require additional information in the Layer 2 header of the frame.
- WLANs increase privacy issues because radio frequencies can reach anyone outside the required location.