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Welcome to Wifigear's Ultimate Glossary of Wi-Fi


Universal Terms


802.11ad (Wireless Standard)

This is the standard for a new generation of WiFi products that will operate on the 60GHz spectrum and be capable of even higher speeds than 802.11ac. it will be incapable of passing through solid objects so it is thought that devices will adpot an 'access point per room' strategy for indoor environments. Point to Point technology is already starting to use higher frequencies with line of sight.

802.11ac (Wireless Standard)

This is the standard for any wireless networking device in the 5GHz range with Beamforming and MIMO. This range can support up to a 1Gbps (1 Gigabit per second) throughput over multiple channels and 500Mbps in a single channel. In can use technology such as BeamForming and MIMO to achieve more efficient and reliable data transfer rates.

802.11ac Wave 2 (Wireless Standard)

This is the standard for any wireless networking device in the 5GHz range with Beamforming and MIMO and MU-MIMO. This range can support up to a 3.47Gbps (3.47 Gigabits per second) throughput over multiple channels. It can utilize 60-80 and 160MHz channels. Speeds as fast or faster than wired networks. Our products below are compatible with this latest technology.

Example Products: Ruckus ZoneFlex R510 and R310, Ruckus ZoneFlex R710, LigoWave Infinity NFT3ac, Ubiquiti UNIFI AP AC PRO

802.11n (Wireless Standard)

This is the standard for any wireless networking device that can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges with MIMO up to 600Mbps. This standard is widely used due to it's ability to communicate with older generations of 802.11 back through 'a', 'b' or 'g' but also support relatively new technology. It cannot use BeamForming however making 'ac', far superior in terms of reliability and throughput.

802.1x (Wireless Standard)

This is the baseline security layer for wired and wireless networks. It can be used in an ethernet based switcher or controller (wired network) or it can also be used in a WiFi network to restrict access to potential users. This standard is usually used in conjunction with other security schemes to provide baseline integrity to the network.


AP (Abbreviation)

Short for Access Point - An Access Point is any device which provides wireless access to a network of devices usually connected to an intranet or the internet (or both).

Beamforming (Performance Optimisation)

Beamforming allows your device to focus it's WiFi signal on the device that really needs it. The signal is like any other wave of energy - as you move further from a light source, the light gets dimmer. As you move further from a radio based access point, the radio gets weaker. Radio signals can penetrate walls and therefore you can focus them on other devices no matter where they are. Beamforming is simply locking on to the radio data signal and focusing the strength of the radio on that.


The total amount of data processing that a wifi networking device can handle - if you were to say your access point has a 'throughput of 1Gbps' it means that it can handle 1 gigabit of data running through it per second maximum.

MIMO (Abbreviation)

Short for Multiple Input, Multiple Output - A device that uses MIMO will have multiple recievers and antennas to increase the throughput and range of the wireless network. Both Access Points and Clients can use MIMO, but it's mostly a feature on APs.

Example Products: Ruckus ZoneFlex R300, LigoWave NFT 2ac, IgniteNet 

MU-MIMO (Abbreviation)

Multiple User Multiple Input, Multiple Output - In this scenario a group of MU-MIMO users will all communicate with each other. In contrast to the standard MIMO principle in which only one single MIMO user communicates with another single MIMO user. The MU-MIMO is placed behind layers of encryption and will require a password to access.

Example Products: Ruckus ZoneFlex R510

5GHz (Frequency)

The 802.11ac Standard WiFi frequency. This frequency consists of a much tighter waveform than a 2.4Ghz alternative. The tighter waveform has less penetrative qualities (reflects off steel and other dense mediums) however can carry much more data and therefore has a higher 'throughput'.

2.4GHz (Frequency)

This is the standard frequency used by all WiFi products across IEEE history. It has been the standard for so long that many areas have signals - produced mostly by older kit that does not contribute to a cleaner airspace. One of the reasons that many first wave ac devices slow down is due to interference from the amount of 2.4GHz kit that is producing unwanted noise. Imagine the WiFi signal like White Noise on your television set - the more signals around, the more interference and the fuzzier the picture/sound.

PSK (Abbreviation)

This is short for Pre-shared Key, or a security passphrase that is shared across all internal users of a building ahead of time. Each client who has the passphrase has the same PSK.

SSID (Abbreviation)

Short for Service Set Identifier - in layman's terms it's the name of the wireless network. It can be sent out or broadcasted by access points or it can be effectively 'hidden' so that nobody knows it exists unless you want them to. Early security guidance was to hide SSIDs however modern network tools can find your SSID just by watching for association in the network because SSIDs are transmitted in cleartext.

AES (Abbreviation)

An encryption standard short for 'Advanced Encyrption Standard'. it's a symmetric block encryption used in WPA2 and other security protocols in order to encrypt data without loading the processors of the access points or controller.

WPA2 (Abbreviation)

Short for 'WiFi Protected Access v2'. This is the strongest security protocol that is available for a wireless network. It is extendable and is often used in conjunction with other wireless protocols for structural integrity. New systems such as Cloudpath take this further by allowing groups of access for Pre-shared Keys so that you can organise they keys you give out to your clients.

WEP (Abbreviation)

Short for 'Wired Equivalent Privacy' - it's the original system that was first implemented in wireless networks. It's easily broken and only normally deployed in home environments.

EAP (Extended Authenticaion Protocol)

An extention that is often used in conjunction with WPA2 in order to increase the authentication required to access a WiFi network. An extra layer of security with many subcategories.

IEEE (Abbreviation)

Stands for 'Institude of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' who essentially set the standards for electronic communications. IEEE 1284 is Parallel Port (early desktops) IEEE 1394 was Firewire, IEEE 802.11 is WiFi and IEEE 802.16 is for cellular data.

'IP-67' and IP Rating (Electronic Standard)

This is a penetration rating for dust and water - IP-67 gear should be waterproof and weatherproof. You'll find this rating on most ourdoor access points or WiFi bridges.

PoE (Abbreviation)

Short for 'Power Over Ethernet'. These devices usually have a power input and 2+ ethernet outputs to transfer extra power to the Access Point or WiFi Bridge.

Directional Antenna

WiFi frequencies are broadcast in shapes, just like when you switch on a torch, the light is directed, it's the same with a radio based antenna. Directional Antennas are used to focus the WiFi signal down corridors, across rural areas and they can sometimes be used to manage airspace for signal in larger projects so as to avoid unwanted interference.

Omnidirectional Antenna

In contrast to the Directional Antenna - Omnidirectional antennas are for covering a wide area with signal - if two identical access points used the same power and antenna to broadcast a signal with omnidirectional focus and directional focus, the directional focus would have more reach. It's like focusing light if you focus your torch. If you focus the light it will reach further before it fades.

Example Products: Ubiquity UNIFI AP AC PRO, Ruckus ZoneFlex R510


Short for 'Local Area Network' usually a wired network for computers to send data to each other. Technically the backbone of the internet is a LAN.

WLAN (Abbreviation)

Short for 'Wireless Local Area Network'. This is the name of any group of Access Points and/or controllers running wireless communications for clients and hosts.

Cloud WLAN

The next step up from WLAN is a Cloud based WLAN. This method manages the WLAN without being connected to the specific network. You can connect to a company who offer cloud based graphical user interfaces and manage your data access without being anywhere near it.

WiFi Controller

A physical box that contains a stronger set of processors and therefore can handle and co-ordinate throughput from multiple access points. Used in larger projects that require handling a greater number of clients.

Example Products: Ruckus Wireless ZoneDirector 5000, Ruckus Wireless ZoneDirector 3000, Ruckus Wireless ZoneDirector 1200, Ruckus Smartzone 100 Controller

Technical Terms


Airtime Fairness (Performance Optimization)

A Ruckus Technology that makes sure all connected devices get the same amount of time communicating with the access point. If you're sharing an access point with an older laptop that takes forever to download a packet on old technology - the access point will still share airtime fairly. This ensures that older clients aren't slowing all the other connected devices down.

Asset Tracking (Location and Analytics)

This is a way to keep track of the locations of the devices connected to the AP. Can be used to pinpoint connected devices real time location, show maps of where people are connecting from, alert when devices leave certain locations to prevent theft and to locate users during an emergency.

Band Steering (Performance Optimisation)

A simple term meaning that the Access Point or Controller senses if the device capable of using 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies. When a dual band (uses both frequencies) device tries to connect over 2.4GHz then it is 'steered' onto the less congested 5GHz frequency. This speeds up the device connected and reduces interference for devices that can only use the 2.4GHz connection.

BeamFlex and BeamFlex+ Adaptive Antenna Technology (Performance Optimisation)

An extension to the Beamforning idea of focusing radio signals on the client's device, the BeamFlex and BeamFlex+ technologies sense the environment in real time including interference, network issues and environment to shape the signal electronically. BeamFlex+ is aimed to provide specific tailored support to mobile devices which enables the device to sense device orientation, then switch between vertical and horizontal waveforms to broadcast a signal that is easier for the device to pick up.

ChannelFly (Performance Optimisation)

Similar to other 'sensing' techniques mentioned, the antennas sense the interference on each channel in real time depending on devices connected and switches channels to increase performance as more devices enter and exit the area of operations.

Client Load Balancing (Performance Optimisation)

In a situation where your project has multiple Access Points, they are all limited to a maximum data transfer limit per second or 'throughput'. This technology allows the Access Point to sense when it's under high load, then redistribute the connection to other Access Points in range in order to reduce load and distribute data connections.

Dynamic Pre-shared Key - DPSK (Security and Onboarding)

A Pre-shared Key can be generated for a group of clients that wish to connect to a network, it's a layer of security usually encrypted by WPA2 and other layers. A Dynamic Pre-shared key is different for every single user - if one user's key is compromised, then the other keys are still secure.

Cloudpath (Security and Onboarding)

A system allowing security and onboarding to be managed without having direct access to the Access Points in the WLAN. You can manage your access points. Cloudpath can give the same level of security to every single device (even older devices) in the network.

OpenG (Mobile Coverage Technology)

A technology that locks on to specific mobile frequencies and then rebroadcasts them in order to increase mobile coverage on a universal frequency that allows for all different mobile carriers and hosts to receive data. This results in better indoor coverage and business opportunities for areas that were not previously covered with mobile data signals.

mmWave (Performance Optimisation)


A technology utilizing waves at the very end of the radio spectrum verging on microwave in order to deliver high speed Point to Point WiFi solutions. mmWave (millimeter wave) products can operate from 60-120GHz. The new IEEE WiFi standard 802.11ad will run on 60GHz millimeter wave technology.


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