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Ad-hoc mode refers to a wireless network structure where devices can communicate directly with each other. It is an additional feature that is specified in the 802.11 set of standards, which is referred to as an independent basic service set (IBSS).
This type of wireless network is also called peer-to-peer mode.
The 802.11 is a set of standards in wireless networking provided by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an organization that develops protocols in the computer and electronics industry. Ad-hoc mode was specified in the 802.11 standard as an optional setup, as opposed to the default infrastructure mode.
Wireless networks usually use an infrastructure mode, where devices connect to an access point, such as a router. These devices send data through the access point, which sends it to other devices in the network. On the other hand, ad-hoc mode removes the need to use an access point and allows for direct communication between devices. Devices can connect to each other in ad-hoc mode as long as they use the same service set identifier (SSID) and channel number.
An ad-hoc wireless network is more cost-effective than its alternative, since it does not require the installation of an access point to operate. In addition, it also needs less time to set up. An ad-hoc mode is often used in urgent situations when fast and efficient communication is needed, such as search-and-rescue operations. This type of network is also used in small groups, where the main purpose of the connection is file-sharing.
On the downside, ad-hoc wireless networks may slow down network performance and are harder to manage. Since there is no centralization, there is practically no distribution system present. Network performance in this mode decreases as the number of devices increases. Because of this limitation, ad-hoc mode is not ideal to use for numerous devices and large work groups.