The term "Wi-Fi" has become commonplace everywhere due to the increasing range of Internet connectivity. But what does this term mean and what is its place in networking? Read on to learn more.
Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity. It is a subject of heavy research and of great technological advantage. Let's discuss the Wi-Fi technology and it's working.
What does Wi-Fi Mean?
Wi-Fi is used for forming Wireless Local Area Networks. In other words, it is used for sharing information between computers which are not connected through wires or cables. Information is converted into radio signals and then transmitted through a wireless medium, which is air. Let us try to understand how Wi-Fi works.
Picture a laptop, a desktop and a wireless router in a room. The desktop wants to transmit data to the router. It does so, by converting the information into radio signals, with the help of a wireless adapter (an external device connected to the computer).
The radio signals are transmitted over the air, through an antenna, which is connected to the wireless adapter. The laptop sends data in a similar fashion, except its wireless adapter and antenna is built in.
The wireless router accepts the information through its antenna and performs the task of sending the information to the Internet through a wired Ethernet connection.
The router will send data from the wired Ethernet connection to the laptop and desktop respectively, by converting data into radio signals and transmitting them through its antenna. Once the radio signals are received by an antenna, be it on the router or the computer, it is converted into binary format, i.e 1s and 0s.
The wireless networking standard that is followed for Wi-Fi, is the IEEE 802.11 standard. Because a large amount of information needs to be transmitted through Wi-Fi devices, the frequency used for wireless transmission is considerably higher, in the range of 2.4 GHz-5 GHz.
The range of frequency used also depends on the various subdivisions of 802.11 like 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11n. For example, 802.11a can transmit data at a frequency of 5 GHz while 802.11b can transmit data at a frequency of 2.4 Ghz.
A common question that is often asked is 'what does Wi-Fi capable mean' or in other words, 'what does Wi-Fi enabled mean'. Wi-Fi enabled indicates a device is capable of connecting and using Wi-Fi networks. Recent laptops and cell phones are by default, Wi-Fi enabled. Desktops may require an external wireless adapter to go wireless.
Where is Wi-Fi Used?
The application of Wi-Fi networks is widespread. The most important feature about this technology is that it allows you to connect to the Internet. To do so, you must first connect your computer to an existing wireless network, which is connected to the Internet.
Wireless networks can be secured or unsecured. If the network is secured, you will need to know the security key or password.
Wi-Fi can also be used to create Wi-Fi hotspots. Wi-Fi hotspots are particular locations, where a large wireless network is set up, such that anyone with knowledge of the wireless key, can access and use the network.
Areas such as airports, libraries, colleges, subway or train stations, shopping malls, where people collect in groups, can have Wi-Fi hotspots. Even coffee shops are rapidly establishing Wi-Fi networks to grant their customers Internet access.
Wireless networking holds a lot of promise for the future. With more and more devices becoming Wi-Fi enabled, the future looks bright for this method of information sharing.