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Home » Computers and Internet » Networking » Wi-Fi 802.11

What is Wi-Fi?

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Wi-Fi, or "Wireless Fidelity," is a new technology that lets you connect a computer wirelessly to the Internet. Based on the IEEE 802.11b standard, Wi-Fi offer speeds of up to 11 Mbps (a typical dial-up connection is only .056 Mpbs!) and is typically used with a wireless router or wireless access point. 802.11b uses the 2.4 GHz band, the same frequency as a microwave oven, but at a much lower power (thankfully).

Replacing wired Ethernet connections, Wi-Fi allows you to use a laptop or PDA anywhere within range of the wireless router. Configured correctly, you can expect a usable range of 300 feet or more. Wi-Fi range is affected greatly by walls, especially steel and concrete, and too many obstructions can reduce the usable range considerably.

Other competing standards, specifically 802.11a and 802.11g, have recently gained popularity. 802.11a uses frequencies in the 5 GHz range and offers faster throughput of about 54 Mbps. Its biggest disadvantage, however, is lack of backwards compatibility with 802.11b. 802.11g, however, offers fast data speeds and has the advantage of being compatible with the older (but widely adopted) 802.11b standard.

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