As I understand it your phone (Android) sends out beacons to ask local access points if they are one of its preferred networks. Access points also send out beacons announcing they are there. What are the specific names given to these two types of beacons?

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2 Answers 2


According to this source, the signals your phone sends out are called Probe Requests and the signals the Router/AP sends out are called Beacon Frames.


An end-station would send beacons for an Ad-Hoc network, but not to a WAP. You should really get the scoop directly from the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN Standards, but Wikipedia has a description of the management frames which IEEE 802.11 uses:

Management frames allow for the maintenance of communication. Some common 802.11 subtypes include:

  • Authentication frame: 802.11 authentication begins with the Wireless network interface card (WNIC) sending an authentication frame to the access point containing its identity. With an open system authentication, the WNIC sends only a single authentication frame, and the access point responds with an authentication frame of its own indicating acceptance or rejection. With shared key authentication, after the WNIC sends its initial authentication request it will receive an authentication frame from the access point containing challenge text. The WNIC sends an authentication frame containing the encrypted version of the challenge text to the access point. The access point ensures the text was encrypted with the correct key by decrypting it with its own key. The result of this process determines the WNIC's authentication status.
  • Association request frame: Sent from a station it enables the access point to allocate resources and synchronize. The frame carries information about the WNIC, including supported data rates and the SSID of the network the station wishes to associate with. If the request is accepted, the access point reserves memory and establishes an association ID for the WNIC.
  • Association response frame: Sent from an access point to a station containing the acceptance or rejection to an association request. If
    it is an acceptance, the frame will contain information such an
    association ID and supported data rates.
  • Beacon frame: Sent periodically from an access point to announce its presence and provide the SSID, and other parameters for WNICs within range.
  • Deauthentication frame: Sent from a station wishing to terminate connection from another station.
  • Disassociation frame: Sent from a station wishing to terminate connection. It's an elegant way to allow the access point to
    relinquish memory allocation and remove the WNIC from the association table.
  • Probe request frame: Sent from a station when it requires information from another station.
  • Probe response frame: Sent from an access point containing capability information, supported data rates, etc., after receiving a probe request frame.
  • Reassociation request frame: A WNIC sends a reassociation request when it drops from range of the currently associated access point and finds another access point with a stronger signal. The new access
    point coordinates the forwarding of any information that may still be contained in the buffer of the previous access point.
  • Reassociation response frame: Sent from an access point containing the acceptance or rejection to a WNIC reassociation request frame.
    The frame includes information required for association such as the
    association ID and supported data rates.
  • TL;DR Access Points send beacons (per standard, 10 per second). Clients send probes.
    – Ricky
    Dec 6, 2015 at 8:28

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