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Chapter 2. Getting Ready > How Wireless Networking Works

How Wireless Networking Works

The wireless network adapter you use to connect a PC to your wireless network transmits data by radio waves. But unlike an FM radio transmitter, your wireless networking equipment sends a signal that can only be picked up for about 300 feet if there are no obstructions (and this kind of performance is usually achieved outside only).

As with wired networking technology, such as Ethernet, data is transmitted over a wireless network in pieces, called data packets. Each network adapter has its own unique serial number, called a MAC (media access control) address. You can see the MAC address of your wireless network adapter, as it's usually printed on the underside of the adapter. The data packet contains the data being sent as well as the address of the sender and recipient.


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