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Overview of Deploying a Wireless LAN

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

To provide authorization and authentication, automatic IP address assignment, and name resolution for wireless users, your networking infrastructure should include the following services:

  • Active Directory directory service

  • Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) servers and proxies

  • A certificate infrastructure, also known as a public key infrastructure (PKI)

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services

  • Domain Name System (DNS) services

These services together provide the security, availability, and scalability needed for an enterprise WLAN solution. Before you begin designing and deploying an enterprise WLAN, all of the supporting components and services in your networking infrastructure should be in place.

All of the components required for an enterprise WLAN solution are included with Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP. Windows Server 2003 includes DHCP, DNS, and Certificate Services, and support for RADIUS (through the Internet Authentication Service [IAS]), the IEEE 802.1X standard, and certificate authentication. Windows XP with wireless network adapters provides support for wireless devices such as laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs), the IEEE 802.1X standard, and certificate authentication.


  • Though the WLAN components are included in the Microsoft® Windows® Server 2003, Standard Edition; Windows® Server 2003, Enterprise Edition; and Windows® Server 2003, Datacenter Edition operating systems, there are differences in the levels of features supported and the capabilities. For information about differences in these services among the Windows Server 2003 operating systems, see Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003.

After designing your enterprise WLAN and deploying the networking components and services needed for the WLAN, you will be able to maintain a secure and manageable wireless network by using supported features such as the Wireless Zero Configuration (WZC) service included in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, RADIUS-based 802.1X authentication, and interoperability with other networking services.

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