Network cards are the backbone of any network. The Network interface card or the network card is a hardware device that allows a computer to be connected to a network, and through the network to other computers and devices. It is installed in one of the free peripheral connect interface (PCI) slots of a computer and includes a port in which the networking cable is inserted. There are different NICs for different networks even if the computer is the same. For example, if a computer is to be connected to an Ethernet LAN, it must be equipped with an Ethernet network card and if it is to be connected to a wireless LAN, a wireless network card needs to be installed.
Wireless network cards allow you to do away with traditional networking through cables. These are gaining popularity as Wi-Fi hotspots are mushrooming all over the world. Most new laptop computers are now available with pre-installed wireless network cards that are an integral part of the hardware. Wireless network cards that fit into the PCMCIA slots are available for older laptops and similar cards are also available for regular desktop computers.
A wireless network card can communicate only with a wireless router or a wireless access point. It is important that the wireless network card or adapter should work at the same speed and with the same coverage as the wireless router. In addition to the communication software that is embedded in the network interface cardís (NICís) ROM, the computer also requires networking software to be installed for the network to be functional. Both the software and the NIC have to adhere to the communication protocols of the network to which the computer is to be connected.
Wireless network cards have increased the mobility by allowing people to work from any location which is Wi-Fi enabled and have also helped in doing away with the hassles associated with installation of traditional wired networks.
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