Understanding What WiFi Is

WiFi is a technology that has changed the way many things at business and at home work, from games to point of sale devices at stores. It's one of the most commonly-seen buzzwords of our time. However, many people might not realize just what WiFi is and how it can help them. By understanding what WiFi is, how it works, and some of the benefits and risks, you will be able to see how this new technology can bring benefits to you.

Wireless Technology

It's one thing to say that WiFi is a wireless technology, but that doesn't really tell you what WiFi is. The way WiFi works is through the transmission of radio signals. WiFi uses a transmission on the 2.4GHz band, which is the same band that is used for many cordless phones. A computer network sets an SSID, a Service Set Identifier, which is a word, phrase, or set of numbers that provides a sort of identity to a network, to a wireless access point, which transmits the information. Any wireless receivers that have the same SSID set can receive that information.

What Makes It So Good

Knowing what WiFi is makes it rather obvious why it's grown so popular. Because using radio technology means that you don't have to use cables to set up your computer network, WiFi is a more cost effective form of networking. Also, because on the most basic networks, use of an SSID means any computer can access it, WiFi is what many places, such as coffee shops, public libraries, and so on use to allow people to access the Internet when they're out of their homes. All it takes is a laptop with a wireless card, which is pretty common these days.

What Makes It Bad

For those looking to keep secure networks without interference, then WiFi is what will make their jobs more difficult. Because WiFi uses the same band as wireless phones and because so many people use the same channel out of the 11 channels used in the wireless band, there's a lot of crowding of airspace on WiFi networks, which can lead to interference and poor performance.

The other problem, that of security, also results from the way that wireless access points are configured. By default, most access points have no security set up, and so the average user, who isn't familiar with such configuring WiFi, creates a network that's not secure. Even worse, because most access points have a default SSID, it's easy for someone to drive around and use these common SSIDs to access secure networks illegally. The best defense against these problems, of course, is to learn how to configure your network, set it up so it's secure, and use an SSID that you've made up, not the default. So, now that you know what WiFi is and what the dangers are, you can understand how to gain the benefits of a wireless network without the drawbacks.