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What is Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance (CSMA/CA)
802.11 networks use a method known as Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance (CSMA/CA). In wireless networks, usually only the AP can hear every workstation that is communicating with it.
Additionally, wireless networks do not use fullduplex communication, which is another way of protecting data against corruption and loss as a result of collisions.
APs are also referred to as wireless access points. This is a more precise term that differentiates them from other network access points (such as dial-in remote access points.)
CSMA/CA solves the problem of potential collisions on the wireless network by taking a more active approach than CSMA/CD, which kicks in only after a collision has been detected. Using CSMA/CA, a wireless workstation first tries to detect if any other device is communicating on the network. If it senses it is clear to send, it initiates communication. The receiving device sends an acknowledgment (ACK) packet to the transmitting device indicating successful reception. If the transmitting device does not receive an ACK, it assumes a collision has occurred and retransmits the data. However, it should be noted that many collisions can occur and that these collisions can be used to compromise the confidentiality of Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encrypted data.
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