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Free At Last

All The Parts

A standard wireless home LAN configuration consists of adaptor cards, which fit into slots inside each PC or portable. The Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) and Peripheral Component Interface (PCI) adaptors for wireless LANs are equipped with either tiny, fixed, rugged antennas or 1.5-foot long string antennas for sending and receiving radio signals broadcast over the air. These wireless networks support small groups of users within an average range of between 300 and 500 feet indoors, and up to 1,000 feet outdoors. Diamond's HomeFree Desktop Pac, for example, can handle up to 16 computers up to 150 feet away from each other in separate rooms, but at that distance, it's certainly more sensible to add an access point (AP).

APs act as routers, or bridges, through which all data flows. An AP connects wireless and wired networks and is always on. Proxim's RangeLAN2, for instance, connects Ethernet and Token Ring networks to wireless networks.

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This article was originally published in the June 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Free At Last.

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