WiFi Equipment For Your Home
WiFi, which stands for Wireless Fidelity, which is mostly just a marketing term, representing how this technology uses radio signals to transmit data in a computer network. A WiFi network is very convenient, cutting down on the costs of running Ethernet cable through walls in order to have a high-speed network in the home or in the office. However, if you're new to this technology, you might not know what you need for WiFi in your home. Here's what will get you enjoying the wireless revolution in your home:
A Wireless Router
The first thing needed for a WiFi network, in most cases, is a wireless router. Many broadband companies now provide this piece of equipment when they set up your service. What the wireless router does is transmit the information that comes from your provider to the other computers in your network. It manages who gets what information and it is the device you configure to determine the SSID, which determines which computers can access your network.
A Wireless Card
However, WiFi with just a transmitter isn't very useful. Unless your computer or laptop has built-in wireless devices, you will need some sort of wireless card. For PCs, this is usually a card that plugs into the PCI slot on your motherboard and has an antenna to aid in receiving data. If you have a laptop, it's probably built in, but can also be obtained by a wireless card that you plug into the PC Card slot. Alternately, there are wireless receivers that run through USB as well. With a wireless card to receive what your router sends, you have a basic WiFi network.
The Advantage Of Wifi
The big benefit of WiFi over wireless networks, of course, is that with just a little equipment, you can connect several computers to your home network without running any wires. Even if you don't have a wireless router at home, for example, as long as you have a wireless card and permission to use an SSID, whether at a coffee shop that offers WiFi access or at a friend's house, you can have access to a computer network.
Because WiFi equipment is inexpensive, with cards available for under $50 nowadays, it's also a very affordable technology. If your broadband company provides the router, the startup costs of such a network is very low, giving you access to fast Internet access for research or online gaming anywhere in your home. With such an advantage, it's easy to see how having basic WiFi equipment can improve your home computing.
The History of Wi-Fi
The precursor of today's Wi-Fi was developed sometime in the early 1990s by the Netherlands-based company NCR Corporation/AT&T (which later became known as Lucent & Agere Systems). Called WaveLAN, it was originally intended to be used in cash registers.
Several competing standards prevented the immediate success of having wireless networks. However, with the development of the IEEE 802.11 standard and the release of its first protocol in 1997, this technology slowly but surely came into the mainstream. Since then, several protocols were released and several more will be released to address issues such as range and speed.
The first protocol released in 1997, now known as the Legacy mode, operated in the 2.4 GHz frequency. The throughput and data rate are slow by today's standards, with only 0.9 and 2 Mbit/s, respectively. 802.11 a and b came two years later in 1999 with the a protocol offering faster speeds while the b provided a wider range. The elements of the two were later merged in 2003 when the 802.11g protocol was released. It offered the speed of 801.11a and the range of the 802.11b.
The 802.11n standard was released in late 2009 and provides greater speeds and almost double the range of the a/b/g protocols. 802.11ac was released in 2013 with even further improvements.