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Chapter 3. How Wireless Works > Wireless Hardware

Wireless Hardware

At the basic level, you need only two pieces of hardware for any wireless network, a central access point and a network adapter (Figure 3.3). Access points are usually standalone devices. In contrast, network cards usually install inside a computer via all the standard methods you might expect—PC Card bay, PCI slots, and custom slots—as well as some you might not expect, like CompactFlash and Secure Digital cards. For computers that can't support any of these internal options, external adapters that plug into USB or Ethernet ports are also available. Finally, although both access points and network cards have built-in antennas, external antennas can extend the range of certain networks.

Figure 3.3. A typical wireless network with various different devices.



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