WLAN is an acronym for “Wireless Local Area Network” or Wireless LAN and thus describes a wireless network at local level. Devices communicate via radio and network nodes within such a network. WLANs are typically used for wireless Internet connections in a home network or public networks.

How it works[edit]

A WLAN consists of different network nodes, which communicate with each other via a network card. Each network node is a separate radio cell. Important for the communication of these nodes is that both radio cells overlap. Different standards are used for the transmission of files over a WLAN, which also have different ranges from 300 meters up to five kilometers. The radiation emitted by a WLAN penetrates walls and also closed windows. By linking individual radio cells and their overlap (access points), the range of a WLAN can be increased almost infinitely.

Transferable data volume[edit]

Depending on the equipment, data rates between 2 and 600 megabits/second can be achieved in a WLAN. However, this applies only to theory. The data transfer rate can be reduced enormously due to interference waves caused by radios or transmission poles, as well as static barriers such as walls or doors.

Common standards and development[edit]

The WLAN 802.11 standard is most prevalent. It receives its specification by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and is constantly being further developed. Originally, a data transfer rate of 2 megabits/second was fixed in a 2.4 gigahertz band. Next, the frequency was increased to 5 gigahertz, which ultimately achieves transmission rates of up to 54 megabits/second in the WLAN 802.11a standard. The standards 802.11g and 802.11n followed. The latter standard has now also been specified by the IEEE and delivers an immensely higher data transmission rate at 600 megabits / second, which is achieved because of its multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technique.

Areas of application[edit]

One of the applications of WLAN are in-home networks of private users to wirelessly connect devices to the Internet. For this purpose, the WLAN transmitter is connected to a router in order to establish the Internet connection to the provider. Moreover, WLAN provides the ability to link individual devices wirelessly, such as printers with PCs or even beamers, as well as TV devices or streaming boxes such as Apple’s Airplay. WLAN is also used in many public buildings or businesses for wireless data transmission and wireless access to the Internet.


To protect data from unauthorized access, WLAN connections are usually encrypted. Various encryption methods exist for this purpose, for example, WPA or WEP. To access the wireless network, users must use the same network key. In order to strengthen network coverage worldwide, again and again initiatives are formed to get private WLAN networks shared with the public. However, there are routinely debates about the liability for shared WLAN connections.

Mobile WLAN[edit]

“Mobile WLAN” is a current development, which allows users to share data connections with others through a mobile network and surfsticks or smartphones. The transmission principle remains the same, with the difference that the transmitter is mobile and does not have to be connected to a power supply. Mobile SEO has emerged since web content can also be displayed on mobile devices with a mobile WLAN. The Mobile Optimization is important for search engine optimization, since it is one of Google’s ranking factors[1]

Google and WLAN[edit]

The search engine company Google is repeatedly criticized because it is assumed that the company tries to spy on encrypted data from WLANs through smartphones with the help of the Android operating system. Google’s Android supposedly transfers unsecured WLAN keys to US servers.


  1. Statement von Google on mobile optimization in June 2013. Accessed on 03/15/2014