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Today's power grid is facing many challenges due to increasing load growth, aging of existing power infrastructures, high penetration of renewable, and lack of fast monitoring and control. Utilizing recent developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) at the power-distribution level, various smart-grid applications can be realized to achieve reliable, efficient, and green power. Interoperable exchange of information is already standardized in the globally accepted smart-grid standard, IEC 61850, over the local area networks (LANs). Due to low installation cost, sufficient data rates, and ease of deployment, the industrial wireless LAN technologies are gaining interest among power utilities, especially for less critical smart distribution network applications. Extensive work is carried out to examine the wireless LAN (WLAN) technology within a power distribution substation. The first phase of the work is initiated with the radio noise interference measurements at 27.6- and 13.8-kV distribution substations, including circuit breaker switching operations. For a detailed investigation, the hardware prototypes of WLAN-enabled IEC 61850 devices are developed using industrial embedded systems, and the performance of smart distribution substation monitoring, control, and protection applications is analyzed for various scenarios using a round trip-time of IEC 61850 application messages. Finally, to examine the real-world field performance, the developed prototype devices are installed in the switchyard and control room of 27.6 power distribution substation, and testing results of various applications are discussed.