What is Wi-Fi?

What is Wi-Fi?

We all use it, and technically we know what it is, but if I asked you to define Wi-Fi, would you be able to?

Wi-Fi is wireless networking technology that allows devices such as computers (laptops and desktops), mobile devices (like smartphones), and other equipment (printers, cameras, televisions, etc.) to interface with the Internet. It allows these devices to exchange information with one another, creating a network. Internet connectivity occurs through a wireless router. When you access Wi-Fi, you are connecting to a wireless router that allows your Wi-Fi-compatible devices to interface with the Internet.

What does Wi-Fi stand for?

Probably Wireless Fidelity or something, right? Wrong! Phil Belanger, a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, has comprehensively dispelled the idea: “Wi-Fi doesn’t stand for anything. It is not an acronym. There is no meaning.”

The truth is that the organization needed a name for their standard that would be easier to remember than “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence”. So, they hired a marketing agency to name it and were given the choice of 10 options and that’s how the word Wi-Fi was born.

Belanger does concede that the organization did, in the early days of Wi-Fi, include the tag line “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”. This was because board members found it hard to imagine having a name that didn’t mean anything and wanted to subsequently explain the name that had been invented for them, but Belanger says it was a mistake to do it, and the line was quickly dropped.

How does Wi-Fi work?

Unfortunately, we can’t talk about Wi-Fi without getting at least a little technical. The IEEE 802.11 standard defines the protocols that enable communications with current Wi-Fi-enabled wireless devices, including wireless routers and wireless access points. Wireless access points support different IEEE standards.

Each standard is an amendment that was made official over time. The standards operate on varying frequencies, deliver different bandwidth, and support different numbers of channels.

What is a wireless access point?

A wireless access point (AP) allows devices to connect to the wireless network. What an AP does for your network can be compared to what an amplifier does for your home stereo. An AP takes the bandwidth coming from a (wireless) router and stretches it so that many devices can connect to the network. But a wireless AP does more than simply extend Wi-Fi.

It also does the following:

•            It gives useful data about the devices on the network.

•            It provides proactive security.

•            It serves many other practical purposes.

What is a wireless router?

Wireless routers are the hardware devices that Internet service providers use to connect you to their cable or xDSL Internet network. A wireless router is sometimes referred to as a wireless local area network (WLAN) device, which is also called a Wi-Fi network. A wireless router combines the networking functions of a wireless AP and a router.

Random facts about Wi-Fi

Here are some random facts about Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi technology exists thanks to a Hollywood starlet

During World War II, Hollywood silver screen actress Hedy Lamarr invented frequency-hopping radio communications technology. This technology was instrumental in the development of Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi’s kryptonite is water

The radio waves that Wi-Fi emits are easily absorbed in water. This means that you shouldn’t put your Wi-Fi router near fish tanks and aquariums because the interference stops your Wi-Fi from spreading around your home.

The world’s longest Wi-Fi signal was in Venezuela

According to the Guinness World Records, the longest Wi-Fi signal was shot 382 km between a couple of mountains in the Andes.

So, now if you’re asked to define Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to do it, right?