Extended Service Set

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What Does Extended Service Set Mean?

An extended service set (ESS) is one or more interconnected basic service sets (BSSs) and their associated LANs. Each BSS consists of a single access point (AP) together with all wireless client devices (stations, also called STAs) creating a local or enterprise 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN). To the logical link control layer (part of layer 2 of the 7-layer OSI Reference Model) the ESS appears as a solitary BSS at any one of the STAs.

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Techopedia Explains Extended Service Set

The most basic BSS consists of one AP and one STA.

An extended service set, consisting of a set of BSSs, must have a common service set identifier (SSID). The BSSs can all work on the same or different channels. This helps to boost the signal throughout the wireless network.

A single service set consists of all STAs receiving signals from a given AP and creates an 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN). Each STA may receive a signal from several APs within their range. Depending on its configuration each STA can, manually or automatically, select the network with which to associate. And multiple APs may share the same SSID as part of an extended service set.

Although not part of the 802.11 standard, some wireless APs may broadcast multiple SSIDs, allowing virtual access points to be created – each with their own security and network settings.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.