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Wireless Channel Hopping

Ever wondered how your devices like your laptop get the list of wireless networks available?

First, you have to understand that at any point in time, a wireless card can only listen to one specific wireless channel at one point in time. This means that if your access point (AP) is on channel 6, it would be likely that your wireless card on your laptop could only be listening to channel 6 and ignoring the other wireless channels.

How would you then get all the list of wireless networks?

When the signal strength from an AP is weak or when your wireless card decides to channel hop, it would send a NULL function data frame with the Power Management bit in the frame control field of the MAC address header set to “1” to inform the AP to buffer frames intended for the station. Once the station has returned to it associated channel, the channel sends another NULL Function data frame with the Power Management bit set to “0” to inform the AP to begin forwarding frames again. This is to prevent frames from being lost while the laptop’s wireless card is listening to other different channels for alternate AP.


Shared by Max Chee.

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