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Information Technology
315 Nichols Engineering
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA 24450

Explaining Wireless Ethernet

Wireless Ethernet (the technology known by the specifications IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g) offers Ethernet speeds without the wires, with speeds similar to that of workstations hard wired to the VMI campus backbone network. Under 802.11x, devices communicate at a speed of 54 or 11 Mbps whenever possible, depending on the data rate your wireless network card supports. If signal strength or interference is disrupting data, the devices will drop back to 11 or 5.5 Mbps, then 2 Mbps and finally down to 1 Mbps. The service coverage is somewhat similar to the experience of cellular phone coverage, meaning that performance varies with the strength of the signal, and there are dead spots in the coverage area where there is no signal. Users of the VMI wireless network will be able to access the same features as the wired network by authenticating to a virtual private networking (VPN) server with their VMI username and password.