What is WiFi?

Published: 05th April 2011
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What is WiFi and how does WiFi work? Lots of people are using WiFi technology and lots of them do not answer on these questions.

WiFi - wireless fidelity refers to the wireless networks which use 802.11 standard developed by the IEEE. WiFi or Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance. WiFi Alliance tests equipment of various WiFi vendors and issues a certification. If wireless product is WiFi certified there is an assurance it acts according to the 802.11 standards.

There is also widely used name for WiFi network and this is WLAN. WLAN - Wireless Local Area Network, or Wireless LAN is local network based on WiFi technology. So now when you now what is WiFi, lets find out how WiFi works.

WLAN uses different IEEE standards for data transfer:

- 802.11a

- 802.11b

- 802.11g

- 802.11n

802.11a works on the frequency of 5 GHz. Most of the wireless signals use the 2.4GHz band, so there is much greater possibility for decreasing the strength of the signal, because interference with other signals that works on the same frequency. Speed used by this standard is 54Mbps and it is almost 5 times greater then speed of 802.11b standard.

802.11b works on the frequency of 2.4 GHz and with maximum speed of 11 Mbps. This frequency of 2.4 GHz is unregulated frequency and the providers do not have to pay the license for it. The range in the indoor environment is about 35 meters (117 feet), and 100 meters (333 feet) in outdoor environment.

802.11g works on the frequency of 2.4 GHz, with maximum speed of 54Mbps. Hardware is compatible with 802.11b hardware.

What is WiFi 802.11n? It is still not standard, it is amendment. This is a reason it operates on both frequency bands 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Most of the vendors use 2.4 GHz frequency. The equipment working on 802.11n is backward compatible with old standards. This means that 2.4 GHz 802.11n is compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g.

Speed is usually 150Mbps, but some of the wireless routers could work even on 300 Mbps. The range is 6 times father comparing to 802.11g.

Since it is still not standardized, all these values of speed and range you should take for granted. If you are buying new wireless equipment, it is good to take the one which support n. But I wouldn't recommend changing 802.11g wireless router and cards which are already working fine with the newest n amendment. There could be quite a difference between actual results and the speeds and ranges that vendors are mentioning.

What is WiFi equipment?

As I have already mentioned here, WiFi uses the WLAN standard for a connection between the wireless access points or broadband wireless routers and wireless clients or computers with Wireless internet card.
WLAN uses nine WLAN network services for transfer of packets and management operations.
WiFi technology uses WLAN formation and WLAN infrastructure.

Broadband wireless router is a wireless access point that has routing functionalities and that has broadband connection. Broadband connection is provided by fiber optics, DSL, ethernet or cable modem.
Every wireless broadband router is a Wireless access point (connects wireless devices like computers and PDA-s to a wired network) with broadband access and a router (a device that forward packets between computer networks) at the same time.

What is WiFi card? It connects devices to the wireless LAN network or the WiFi network. On web you could find the alternative names WiFi card and wireless network card. Wireless network cards supports one or more 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11n WiFi standards.

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