Most computers use Wi-Fi but users know very little about it. A little background knowledge doesn’t go amiss, but will help you utilize your internet connection better. Wi-Fi wireless network technology uses radio waves, just like your radios, TVs and mobile phones, but with a small difference.
Wi-Fi network is a lot like a two-way radio communication system as they can be used for transmitting as well as receiving information to and fro constantly – but over a short distance only. This popular technology was developed to replace the Ethernet cable (which connects computers to the web) and provides interconnectivity between devices.
The technology involves a computer’s wireless adaptor for translating data into a radio signal which is then transmitted via an antenna. This is picked up by a wireless router and decoded before sending to the internet using a wired Ethernet connection. The same process also works in reverse with the router receiving information and sending it to the computer’s wireless adapter.
With multiple users, most homes and offices use Wi-Fi technology which is a convenient replacement for the multiple video, audio and USB cables used earlier. In fact Wi-Fi currently handles about 60% of global internet traffic. Since Wi-Fi use radio waves, they are victimized by other neighboring Wi-Fi signals, microwave ovens and even cement walls. To cut through the frizz and still be able to deliver a strong and fast signal from the wireless router to your device, Wi-Fi radio waves work at two frequencies – 5 gigahertz and 2.4 gigahertz.
The lower the frequency, the further the wave can travel; so radio waves of 2.4 gigahertz travel further but with lower data-transmitting capacity. The higher 5 gigahertz frequency on the other hand has the capacity to carry heavier transmissions in faster and shorter delivery routes.
A Wi-Fi router also comes with security features and has a Wi-Fi protected password – to access the network, you will need the password. But the best part is that Wi-Fi routers are backward compatible and can be used even with the device you bought way back in 2000! Most modern mobiles and laptops are already Wi-Fi enabled.
Other advantages to Wi-Fi routers are that they are relatively inexpensive and are easy to set up. They are also unobtrusive – you might not even notice you are in a hotspot area, unless you were looking for internet connectivity.
More and more cities are now offering free Wi-Fi or wireless internet access to its residents in specific locations.