What is a Guest WLAN?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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WLAN is an acronym that stands for Wireless Local Area Network. A LAN is a computer network, often confined to a single building, that allows communication between and among computers and joint access to shared peripherals, such as printers and scanners through wired connections, either directly between the devices or through another device, often a router. If the router is connected to a modem, it may also serve as an interface between the LAN and the Internet. Wireless LAN incorporates radio signals in order to allow wireless devices to connect to the network. Guest WLAN is access specifically designed to give temporary access to the system.

Guest WLAN may be configured in several ways. It can be identical to WLAN access provided within the organization, “guest” in name only. This could be appropriate for an employee who is usually based at a different location, but is cleared to have full access to all resources and data. Guest WLAN can also be restricted, allowing limited access, as determined by the set-up of the guest account. Finally, guest WLAN could be set up with a different security configuration, if for example, a guest had a computer that wasn’t capable of handling the newer security protocols.


Routers may provide a direct way to set up a guest WLAN. There will likely be a number of available options. First of all, one can either allow guest access to the WLAN either solely for Internet access and other devices on the guest network or for access to the devices on the LAN. Second, one can name the guest access with a name that is completely distinct from the other networks. Finally, one can choose either to employ or not employ security options.

The security option choices may include both very strong protocols and/or protocols that older machines are capable of accessing. Examples of stronger security protocols would be WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES] or WPA/WPA2 Enterprise. The first spelled out reads as “WiFi Protected Access Pre-Shared Key [Temporal Key Integrity Protocol]; WPA2 is an update of WPA that supports the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) protocol and is only available on newer hardware. An example of a protocol that even an older computer might be able to access is WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), which is considered fairly poor encryption, and was replaced by WPA and WPA2.


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