What is WLAN?

A WLAN connects local network nodes using radio technology rather than wired connections. Wi-Fi is a specific type of WLAN that conforms to the IEEE standard 802.11 and relies on access points (APs) to connect to clients and IoT devices using the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and the 6 GHz band. Other types of WLANs may operate using different bands.

WLAN Explained

A wireless LAN (WLAN) is a type of Local Area Network (LAN) that uses wireless communication to connect any type of network client or device. The other type of LAN is a wired LAN.

Is WLAN the same as Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi networks are a type of WLAN but not all WLANs are Wi-Fi. Other radio transmissions that connect local network nodes are also WLANs. However, Wi-Fi is the type of WLAN that is most widely used.


  • Growth in mobility and IoT: According to IDC, IoT is forecast to growth to 41.6bn devices by 2025, generating 79.4 zettabytes of data. Mobility, roaming, cloud, cellular offload, device onboarding, and security issues mean that Wi-Fi needs to support convergence, higher throughput, and more efficient RF utilization.
  • Growth in diversity and bandwidth demands of applications: Latency sensitive video applications are on the rise with 45%/year growth through 2023.
  • Growth in user expectations: Low tolerance for poor network performance leads to executive pressure. The network and applications must be accessible from anywhere, secure, and always on.

What is the role of a wireless controller in WLANs?

Wireless controllers, sometimes referred to as gateways when operating in a cloud-managed environment, provide high-performance access, resiliency, and security across the WLAN, LAN, and SD-WAN.

Next generation WLAN controllers deliver:

  • Performance at scale to support thousands of APs and devices with 24×7 reliability, zero touch provisioning, and live upgrades thereby reducing the need for on-site IT support
  • Security enforcement with granular role-based rules and dynamic segmentation
  • L2/L3 roaming across VLANS to allow seamless handoffs and improved user experience
  • N+1 or NxN redundancy for greater performance and scale

Aruba WLAN Controllers and Gateways:

Aruba offers a full portfolio of WLAN controllers and gateways to meet the needs of mid-sized branches and large campus environments. Recognized as a leader in WLAN, Aruba continues to innovate with the 9000 Series Gateways for branches and small campuses and the 9200 Series Gateways for larger environments.

What is the difference between a WLAN and a VLAN?

If there are too many devices on a single LAN, it can create congestion and bottlenecks. To eliminate broadcast overhead and improve security and performance, the network can be divided into multiple virtual LANs or VLANs.

WLAN Overview

WLAN Overview, WLAN diagram

WLAN is a general term referring to any wireless technology. Wi-Fi is specifically defined by IEEE and uses access points (APs) and 802.11 clients.

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