Networking

What is LAN and WLAN in a wireless router

All home wireless routers incorporate several ports called LAN, which means ” Local Area Network “. They also usually incorporate WLAN, that is, ” Wireless Local Area Network “, the same local network but wireless, that is, the Wi-Fi of our wireless router is called WLAN. Do you want to know what its main characteristics are and how to know which are the LAN ports of our router?

LAN ports: Main features

Normally, home routers incorporate one or more LAN ports, these LAN ports are the ones that belong to the local area network. If you use IPv4 you will be within a class C subnet with mask 255.255.255.0, the most common subnets being 192.168.0.0/24, 192.168.1.0/24 or 192.168.2.0/24 although it depends on the manufacturers they may be others.

At the configuration level, all the computers on the LAN go to the Internet with the same public IPv4 thanks to NAT technology, therefore, they will have the same public IP to go to the Internet. Thanks to NAT, we can connect multiple devices via cable or WiFi and surf the Internet simultaneously, without having to wait until a device is released for us to transfer data.

If your operator uses the IPv6 protocol, it is possible that you also use a private IPv4 range, since it is possible that it uses mechanisms to coexist with the IPv6 protocol. Although if they use IPv6 natively, you will use an IPv6 GUA (Global Unicast Address), and this public IPv6 will also be obtained by each of the devices on the local network. If you have a local area network at the business level, it is possible that the organization has decided to use the ULA (Unique Local Address), in addition to making use of the Link-Local, which is at least the IPv6 that each network card must have.

These LAN ports are where you should connect your PCs, printers, NAS servers, and any other wired device. The speed of the port is governed by BASE-T standards, therefore, we will have speeds of 10/100 / 1000Mbps commonly, although we could have higher speeds such as 2.5G, 5G and even 10Gbps if our router allows it. On some occasions, manufacturers such as NETGEAR in their top-of-the-range routers also incorporate a 10Gbps SFP + port to provide the local area network with the possibility of connecting a fiber optic device directly, instead of using the typical network cable. twisted pair.

The LAN ports are perfectly differentiated from the WAN port of our router, they usually come in a different color, although this depends on the manufacturer itself, since it can also be indicated directly with a small legend just below the ports. In recent months, manufacturers such as ASUS, NETGEAR or TP-Link, are launching routers with a Multigigabit port, either 2.5G, 5G and even 10G ports, at the firmware level, these ultra-fast ports can be configured as WAN of Internet or as LAN, the most recommended today is to configure them as LAN (they come preconfigured in this way), because in the LAN we can connect NAS servers with Multigigabit ports and squeeze to the maximum this additional speed that we can achieve via cable.

For example, the ASUS RT-AX89X router has a 10GBASE-T Multigigabit port, and another 10Gbps SFP + port to connect a DAC cable or directly fiber optic. Thanks to these ultra-fast ports, we can connect a NAS server with 10GBASE-T or SFP + ports to the LAN network, and later access this NAS server through the rest of the Gigabit Ethernet ports that we have available, and even through the WiFi network , without the wired network being a bottleneck. If we connect this same NAS to a Gigabit Ethernet port, then we would have a very important bottleneck, because at most we can transfer data at 1Gbps, regardless of how many computers we are transferring the information from.

WLAN: Main Features

The only difference between WLAN and LAN is the transmission medium. While in the LAN we make use of twisted pair cables, or fiber optic cables, in the WLAN we use the air as a transmission medium, that is, we use Wi-Fi technology normally. As for the different standards that we can use in our routers, we currently use the Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 standards, and if your router is of the latest generation, it is possible that it uses the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. Depending on the equipment we have, it may have WLAN in a single frequency band (normally 2.4GHz), we may have simultaneous dual band (2.4GHz and 5Ghz) and we may even have equipment with simultaneous triple band (2.4GHz, 5GHz with channels « low “and 5GHz with” high “channels).

Nowadays it is very common to make use of the Wi-Fi 6 standard, which incorporates many improvements over the previous ones to obtain the best possible user experience, with Wi-FI 6 we will have OFDMA technology to subdivide the channel into smaller channels and to be able to squeeze the maximum available bandwidth, this is ideal for professional WiFi access points where there are dozens of connected clients. We also have MU-MIMO, to send and receive data simultaneously from several WiFi clients at the same time, without having to wait a certain time or until the ones that are already broadcasting finish. Finally, we must not forget the BSS Coloring to reduce interference, the Beamforming to focus the WiFI signal on the clients, and even the Target Wake Time that will allow us to save energy on the WiFi clients,

As you have seen, currently in routers we have three well differentiated interfaces, the WAN (Internet) interface, the LAN interface and the WLAN that belong to the home local area network. Of course, if we have a professional router like the NETGEAR BR500 or the ASUS BRT-AC828, we have the possibility of creating virtual LANs, that is, VLANs, to create several local subnets and segment the traffic.

In the case of having a more advanced home or professional network, it is completely necessary to segment the network by VLANs, which are basically virtual LANs, in which the frames are tagged to separate said subnets, and that we need a router to be able to intercommunicate them. VLANs allow us isolation, better control of everything that is happening in the local network, and also allow us to have a higher performance and avoid security problems. That is, for large networks where we have a large number of equipment, it is always necessary to segment into VLANs to provide the network with better security and performance. In addition, we will also have the possibility to provide professional APs with different VLANs, and in this way, have an SSID for each VLAN created.

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