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Suppose there are two clients, A and B, on the same infrastructure-based wireless network with access point C. When A wants to send a packet to B, does C have to forward it to B, or can B just pick it up off the air directly from A. Basically what I'm asking is will the packet travel A -> C -> B, or just A -> B ?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The client is sending packets to the access point which it is associated with. The route is A -> C -> B

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Yes, exactly as you'd expect from a wired network. – Kara Marfia Oct 20 '09 at 14:59
So even though its a shared medium and B can potentially see a packet that is addressed to it that leaves from A, it would wait until the packet is forwarded by the access point C, before replying to it? – TripShock Oct 20 '09 at 15:34
The key word is potentially - the 802.11 protocols ensure that the communication channel in AP mode (rather than ad-hoc) is from client device to the AP and from the AP to wherever it needs to go, even if that is back to another wireless client. When encryption is enabled (which it should be) the content of the signal between Cleint A and AP C should be unintelligible to Client B. Assuming that weaknesses in encryption protocols and hacking are not what we're talking about here. – Helvick Oct 20 '09 at 19:00
Ok, thanks. That answers everything! – TripShock Oct 20 '09 at 22:54

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