Do you want to learn more about how WiFi technology works?
In 2019, 90% of American adults reported using the internet for research, work, social media, and more. Staying connected to the internet is vital to the modern lifestyle. Because of that, there are various ways to use it.
One of them is to use WiFi technology.
You may hear the term used often but don’t know what it means. Now, you’ve got the chance to learn something new about WiFi. Below, we’ve got an informative WiFi guide for you.
What Is WiFi Technology?
WiFi is something that we use every day, but do you know what it stands for? If you don’t, you’re not the only one. A lot of people don’t know what the abbreviated term stands for in actuality.
The truth is that there are no actual records of the meaning of WiFi. Yet, there are many theories out there about what it means. The definition most people use today when they describe WiFi is Wireless Fidelity.
To answer your question, WiFi is a way for people to connect to the internet. Unlike with older forms of internet connection, you don’t need cables, wires, or other tools to go online. All you need is a WiFi connection, a router, and your device.
A Brief History of WiFi
You can say that the current world is dependent on WiFi today. For example, after the COVID-19 outbreak, many people began to turn to online work to survive. Among the total US workforce, 56% of employees hold a job compatible with remote work.
To understand WiFi better, let’s go back to the past for a few minutes to discuss how WiFi came to be.
Critical thinkers may wonder about something we mentioned earlier. This is most likely why WiFi doesn’t have an actual meaning. If you want to know, there’s an interesting explanation and history behind it.
Before WiFi internet became the standard, it had a different purpose. Before the invention of the PC, a team of scientists worked on it to understand black holes. The Father of WiFi, an electrical engineer named John O’Sullivan, wanted to detect their radio signals.
To achieve this, they created complex equations called Fast Fourier transforms. The problem was that they couldn’t use it to detect black holes and ended the project. Dr. O’Sullivan shelved the equations until a few years later.
By this time, he was looking for a way to get computers to communicate with one another. He went back to his Fat Fourier equations and discovered that they were perfect for the project. The first version of WiFi got released in 1997 and updated in 1999.
Why Was It Called WiFi?
If you’ve heard of the term HiFi, you might think that WiFi is the same. While the two terms rhyme and seem alike, they differ in meaning. While HiFi stands for High Fidelity, WiFi doesn’t have an actual meaning.
The other name for WiFi is “802.11,” which is a mouthful. At the time, the WiFi Alliance wanted to make the technology easier on the tongue. Their marketing team came up with the term “WiFi,” and the rest is history.
For each WiFi version, the creators added letters or numbers to its technical name. For example, WiFi 4 is 802.11n. Today, we’re past the age of 802.11n, and we’re using Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax.
How Does WiFi Send Data Through Frequency Waves?
WiFi uses binary code to break down and put together pieces of data. Let’s say you’re trying to send an email to your boss. WiFi will break this data down into packets or lines of binary code.
Then, these bits of data will get sent out as wave frequencies.
These packets will jump from router to router until it reaches your boss. Before your boss can read it, the packets will get reassembled and formed into the email. The same thing applies to photos, videos, documents, messages, and other types of data.
How Devices Connect to WiFi
Not every device is the same. Some mobile phones, computers, and smart TVs can connect to a WiFi network. Others can’t or need special devices before they can connect to WiFi.
Most modern electronics and gadgets have a wireless adapter built into them. For example, if you look at your laptop hardware, it’s the component that’s referred to as the WiFi card. This small WiFi card can pick up the radio frequencies sent by a router and connect you to the internet.
WiFi and Frequencies
Now that you know some historical background of WiFi, let’s talk about how it works. Like other wireless devices, WiFi uses radio frequencies to send data. Unlike the typical radio, which uses Kilohertz and Megahertz, WiFi uses Gigahertz (GHz).
Hertz (Hz) is a wave frequency unit, which is equal to one cycle per second. This means that a Kilohertz (kHz) involves 1,000 cycles in a second. This also means that Megahertz (MHz) is equal to 1 million hertz, and a Gigahertz is a billion cycles.
Within a second, a billion cycles emit through the air to reach your devices. It’s interesting to note that WiFi frequency can function even without actual air. Now, the question is, how does data get sent through these radio waves?
Does WiFi Use Specific Frequencies?
The short answer is yes. Do you remember how radios only work if you hone into a specific frequency? The same applies to WiFi connections. WiFi uses two frequency bands for signal: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.
For each frequency band, WiFi also has several channels. These channels help decrease interference and overlap between your WiFi device and other WiFi devices. Otherwise, your WiFi will become slower or won’t function well at all.
About 42.8 million Americans don’t have stable internet access. One of the many problems that cause this is when there are too many WiFi routers in one area. It’s a good thing WiFi frequency bands use several channels to send and receive data.
The WiFi Network and WLAN
If you have WiFi at home, notice that it comes with certain devices or hardware. One of the most prominent and vital pieces of hardware is the router. However, this is only one of the many parts that make up a wireless connection in a local area.
First, there are the user devices. These are the gadgets with wireless connectivity, and you use to access the internet. Examples of it include smart TVs, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and more.
Next, you have the access point. This is a tool with a radio card that sends data to individual user devices. It’s a sub-device in the local area network (LAN) that lets devices connect to.
It can also let more devices connect to the network. Often, access points or networks of them get used in medium to large businesses. The access point is different from a router.
A router is also a hub that sets up a LAN and manages the devices connected to it. Routers best suit homes and small businesses, in contrast to access points. Routers can be access points, but access points won’t always work as routers.
We mentioned LAN. This is the collection of devices connected to a location. It’s often a connection of computers within a building or office.
The WLAN or wireless LAN is the collection of devices that don’t use a wire or fiber optic cable. Instead, the devices communicate and send/receive data through wireless means. The WLAN includes your smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other wireless devices.
Advantages and Disadvantages of WiFi Technology
Like most pieces of technology, WiFi brought forth many pros and cons. Before you decide to get a WiFi installation done in your home, read its benefits. Don’t forget to consider the drawbacks it brings and how you can avoid such issues.
Pros of WiFi
Thanks to technological advancements, WiFi is faster now. Unlike the 90s, when you had to wait a long while before you can open a webpage, you can transfer data in a second now. This lets you work with more efficiency.
Because of its wireless feature, WiFi also allows for easier access and flexibility. You can be anywhere in the building or area and still stay connected to the internet. It’s helpful if you need to do chores at home but want to keep your smartphone around to listen to podcasts.
Remember that going wireless is more cost-effective than using Ethernet. The planning and installation of cables alone can already cost you a great deal. You don’t need a big budget if you want to create a WLAN in an office building.
Cons of WiFi
Like all things, WiFi technology also comes with some disadvantages. One of them is security. Wired connections are more secure, while WiFi is more exposed to unauthorized access.
Another problem is network coverage. Notice that there are some parts or areas in a building that your WiFi frequencies can’t reach. This is because, like other forms of waves, things or people can block the signal.
Certain materials, like steel or thick walls, can also keep the waves from reaching you. Sometimes, your phone has a WiFi signal, but it’s weak and slow. If you want your WiFi to reach every part of an area, place it at an elevated or high area.
As we said, if there are too many people connected or other radio signals present, you may lose signal, too. Your WiFi can only accommodate so many users. To avoid this, make sure your WiFi plan matches your usage and data needs.
Common Questions About WiFi
Below, we’ll answer some questions or concerns you may have about using WiFi.
Is WiFi Harmful to the Human Body?
Many people have a constant yet gentle worry about the effects of radiation from gadgets. Some people even believe that using mobile phones can cause radiofrequency radiation. From there, it’s easy to see how they can also connect WiFi use to radiation health risks.
However, we’ve got good news. It’s that WiFi emits low levels of non-ionizing radiation like cellphones do. This means that the frequency of WiFi is not harmful to your health.
Instead, you want to be wary of ionizing radiation. Some examples of ionizing radiation come from UV light, CT scans, or X-rays. These types of radiation often have direct impacts on your DNA, which can lead to cancer.
What Is the Difference Between WiFi and Internet?
It’s easy to confuse the two things, especially when you often interchange the two words. WiFi is the wireless network technology that sends data to user devices. Internet refers to the data.
You can connect to the WiFi, and you can connect to the internet, but those are different things. You need WiFi to connect to the internet. You can’t use the internet on a wireless device without a WiFi connection.
Can I Have WiFi Without Internet Providers?
The best way to get WiFi for free is to use public WiFi. You can go to a cafe or a school that has public WiFi and connect from there.
The problem with public WiFi is that it can open you to hackers and malware attacks. If you want to keep your mobile phone or computer safe while you use public WiFi, use a VPN.
Keep Yourself Educated About Tech
That is the end of our guide on WiFi technology and how it works. We hope you found this in-depth guide informative and enjoyable. We also hope that you now have a better idea of how to pick an internet provider.
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