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Inforum Course: Building Wireless Community Networks

It has been proven that Internet access creates a healthy climate for economic development, supports small to medium enterprise (SMEs), and creates broader economic opportunities for all. The IEEE 802.11x standard (also known as Wi-Fi) enables wireless Internet connectivity to towns, schools, neighborhoods, small businesses, and almost any kind of organization. Wireless community networks are generally mission and action-oriented, localized, non-profit initiatives that employ unlicensed spectrum and low-cost equipment to bring access to underserved regions.

This course provides a solid foundation on how to build wireless community networks to foster collective endeavor through a shared, intangible network. It covers important topics such as wireless network standards, radio physics, practical network planning, IP network administration, radio device configuration, securing wireless networks, and others.

Course Objectives:

  • Provide a background on wireless standards and explain the difference between open and closed standards, give an overview of the 802 group of standards, and outline how the 802.11 standard applies to Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs).
  • Explain key elements of radio physics, including the properties of a radio wave, the electromagnetic spectrum, polarization, the effects of environmental conditions, and radio propagation in free space.
  • Discuss the elements of a link budget, explain the calculation of a full link budget, and explore an implementation plan for a wireless link.
  • Learn IP network fundamentals such as the OSI model, mapping the OSI model to the TCP/IP model, IPv4 addressing, Network Address Translation (NAT), web proxies, firewalls, and IP tunneling.
  • Discuss the main types of network topologies and describe how well wireless integrates with each of the main topologies.
  • Provide guidance on physically installing radio device hardware, explain what layers of the OSI model are involved in radio device configuration, and outline some of the options for access point encryption.
  • Recall the core components for wireless network security, describe the different components for routers / firewalls / switches, and explain how to respond to common threats on wireless networks.
  • Detail the setup of a MicroTik router and cover information about other common access points such as Linksys and EnGenius.
  • Explain the functions of each layer of the OSI model, apply a methodological approach to troubleshooting, classify typical problems on wireless networks, and discuss tools for troubleshooting issues at each layer of the OSI model.

Image credit: © PamojaNET

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