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Introduction to Wi-Fi

Wireless technology has widely spread lately and you can get connected almost anywhere; at home, at work, in libraries, schools, airports, hotels and even in some restaurants.

Wireless networking is known as Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) or 802.11 networking as it covers the IEEE 802.11 technologies. The major advantage of Wi-Fi is that it is compatible with almost every operating system, game device and advanced printer.

How does Wi-Fi work?

Like mobile phones, a Wi-Fi network makes use of radio waves to transmit information across a network. The computer should include a wireless adapter that will translate data sent into a radio signal. This same signal will be transmitted, via an antenna, to a decoder known as the router. Once decoded, the data will be sent to the Internet through a wired Ethernet connection. As the wireless network will work as a two-way portal for data traffic, the data received from the Internet will also pass through the router to be coded into a radio signal that will be receipted by the computer's wireless adapter.

What is a Hotspot?

The term Hotspot is used to define an area where Wi-Fi access is available. It can either be through a closed wireless network at home or in public places like restaurants or airports.

To be able to access Hotspots your computer should include a wireless adapter. If you are using an advanced laptop model, it will probably include a built-in wireless transmitter already.

Otherwise you can purchase a wireless adapter that will plug into the PCI slot or USB port. Once installed, your system will automatically detect the Wi-Fi hotspots and request connection. If not, you should use a software to handle this task for you.

What is a wireless network?

A wireless network is like any other computer network. It connects computers to computer networks but without the need for physical wired connections. A wireless network can provide network access to computers, databases, the Internet and OPACs, both within and between buildings. The lack of a physical connection means that users are able to roam or work wherever they wish and still have access to the computer network.

 


There are three primary types of wireless connectivity:
 

  • Wireless Personal Area Networking (WPAN)

  • Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN)

  • Wireless Wide Area Networking (WWAN)

WPAN describes an application of wireless technology that is intended to address usage scenarios that are inherently personal in nature. The emphasis is on instant connectivity between devices that manage personal data or which facilitate data sharing between small groups of individuals. An example might be synchronizing data between a PDA and a desktop computer. Or another example might be spontaneous sharing of a document between two or more individuals. The nature of these types of data sharing scenarios is that they are ad hoc and often spontaneous. Wireless communication adds value for these types of usage models by reducing complexity (i.e. eliminates the need for cables).

WLAN on the other is more focused on organizational connectivity not unlike wire based LAN connections. The intent of WLAN technologies is to provide members of workgroups access to corporate network resources be it shared data, shared applications or e-mail but do so in way that does not inhibit a user's mobility. The emphasis is on a permanence of the wireless connection within a defined region like an office building or campus. This implies that there are wireless access points that define a finite region of coverage.

Whereas WLAN addresses connectivity within a defined region, WWAN addresses the need to stay connected while traveling outside this boundary. Today, cellular technologies enable wireless computer connectivity either via a cable to a cellular telephone or through PC Card cellular modems. The need being addressed by WWAN is the need to stay in touch with business critical communications while traveling.

Did You Know?

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