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Wi-Fi wireless Internet allows users to access the World Wide Web through whatever device they are using, assuming it has Wi-Fi capabilities. Desktop computers may need to have a special wireless card installed before they are able to access Wi-Fi networks, but most laptops have this capability already built in. Some NetBook laptops are unable to connect to networks which use the latest 802-11n standard, but can still connect to the more widely used 802-11b and 802-11g.

Through wireless Internet, users can move throughout an area while being able to check email, access web pages, and perform other tasks which involve the World Wide Web. The limitations of Internet in this case depend upon the device which is being used and on any restrictions set by the owner of the network. Otherwise, Wi-Fi Internet provides all the same functionality as any regular Internet connection would.

By using special Wi-Fi media adapters, an Ethernet system can be converted for wireless use throughout an office building or other general area. The Ethernet system can then be accessed by anything with the capability to use it, similarly to Internet. The difference between Internet and Ethernet Wi-Fi systems doesn’t involve the wireless connection itself, which is basically the same thing either way: a router which is connected to the physical network and which broadcasts wireless signals.

Wi-Fi Ethernet allows for wireless LANs, Local Area Networks, to be formed. Through these networks, users can access data on a local server and view other computers which are connected to the network. This sort of network is convenient in many circumstances where a small, locally accessible server serves better than the Internet itself. It does not, however, permit access to the Internet (although dual Internet and Ethernet accessibility through a single router is possible, if both networks are installed within the building). For more information, please see the other published articles on Ethernet and LANs.

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Pros and Cons of Wi-Fi Wireless Technology

The advantages of wireless technology, combined with the compatibility brought about by the Wi-Fi Alliance, should be fairly obvious. A wireless network allows portability for users within a building, so they can travel short distances while still using their laptops or other portable devices with full functionality. It also all but eliminates the mess and hassle of cables: even though the wireless router itself must be physically connected to the network cables, no extra wires will need to be present in public areas. The lack of cables also means that nobody will be accidentally knocking wires out, which helps to prevent some problems that could be caused by an unexpectedly lost connection.

Of course, everything has cons as well as pros, and wireless networks are no exception. The main problem with wireless networks is their lack of range: even a device which complies with 802-11n has a maximum 300-foot range, and some devices, especially small NetBooks, are not compatible with that standard. Additionally, even the 802-11n standard can’t compare to fibre optic cable in terms of speed and bandwidth. Wireless networks may also be susceptible to interference even with the WEP security protocol. Finally, having Wi-Fi routers placed too far apart or too closely together may result in dead zones or in crossing signals which make it impossible to connect properly. Fortunately, many of these cons may be circumvented with a skilled professional performing wireless network planning and installation.

Wi-Fi Surveys

To avoid dead zones or ineffective overlapping signals, routers must be placed in strategic locations within a building. Wi-Fi surveys take the building’s dimensions and construction and the range of different routers into account to be sure they are placed effectively. The best way to determine where Wi-Fi routers should be placed is to have a professional perform an on-site consultation. Active Communication Company Ltd provides these consultations for free, and can assist any company with building a custom network which is perfect for them from start to finish.

Naturally, in this age of technology, there are computer-based options available to conduct automated surveys as well. Software from the Internet can calculate the specifications of a building and the range of different types of Wi-Fi networks to help determine where routers should be placed for maximum coverage and effectiveness. Buildings which already have a Wi-Fi network in place and wish to add a new router or two may find it more convenient to simply download the software. However, for any network which is being built from scratch or added to substantially, a professional and personal on-site survey is highly recommended.

Choosing the Right Wi-Fi Standard

Four different Wi-Fi standards are commonly used today: 802-11a, 802-11b, 802-11g and 802-11n. There are, of course, different pros and cons specific to each standard that should be considered when setting up a network.

802-11a

The 802-11a standard was created at the same time as 802-11b, but did not gain popularity until slightly later. The two standards are incompatible since they run on different frequencies, so users must choose one or the other (if either). In general, 802-11a is used more for businesses and offices than for homes. It is more costly, but is also faster than its counterpart with a bandwidth of up to 54 MBits/sec.

Pros: Quick, not easily susceptible to interference
Cons: Most expensive of all standards, short range

802-11b

The 802-11b standard has a wide following for at-home use, but falls short when it comes to business purposes. It is inexpensive but comparably slow, with a maximum bandwidth of only 11 MBits/sec. It also uses an unregulated frequency, making it susceptible to interference from other devices.

Pros: Least expensive, good range
Cons: Slowest of all standards, susceptible to interference

802-11g

The 802-11g standard was released in 2002, and provided a major upgrade to previous standards by combining the best features of the standards which preceded it. It is backwards compatible with the 802-11b standard.

Pros: Quick (54 MBits/sec), good range, backwards compatible, less expensive than 802-11a
Cons: Susceptible to interference

802-11n

The newest standard, 802-11n improves on 802-11g in terms of both speed and range (up to 300 MBits/sec and 300 feet, respectively). It is backwards compatible with 802-11g. However, since the standard is not yet finalised, many devices are not yet built to include 802-11n compatibility.

Pros: Fastest speed, longest range, resistant to interference, backwards compatible
Cons: Second most expensive (behind 802-11a), standard is not yet finalised, incompatible products

Choosing the right blend of affordability, speed and range is important when setting up a network for office use.

Development of Wireless Products

Wi-Fi is actually a brand name which is associated with certified wireless products which conform to the IEEE 802.11 standards. However, Wi-Fi has become so widespread that it has essentially become synonymous with wireless network connection. Wireless technology, with Wi-Fi at the forefront, allows computers to connect with the Internet and with each other with less hassle than ever before. Complicated cabling diagrams and installation expenses become a thing of the past with Wi-Fi and other wireless products.

Wireless products operate using direct-sequence spread spectrum and/or orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing radio technology. This technology was first released for unlicensed use in the United States in 1985 and was quickly made available in all other major countries as well.

The first wireless products were developed in 1991 in the Netherlands. Instead of Wi-Fi, these products bore the brand name "WaveLAN." In 1993, the Australian company CSIRO filed a patent which copyrighted portions of the technology used in wireless networks today (modern wireless technology is considered to be in copyright violation of that patent, and the suits were only recently settled in October 2009). Wireless technology continued developing at a rapid rate during the 1990s, but many different researchers were working independently. As wireless capabilities progressed, products suffered heavily from incompatibility. The Wi-Fi alliance was created in 1999 to help fix these problems.

After widespread compatibility became common, it was much easier for wireless products to be developed, and technology has been steadily improving since then. Currently, certain types of wireless network routers which comply with the 802-11n standard are capable of speeds up to 300 MBits per second, with a maximum range of 300 feet.

The Wi-Fi Alliance

The Wi-Fi alliance is a non-profit organisation founded in August 1999 by six leading technology companies: 3Com, Symbol Technologies (now Motorola), Aironet (now Cisco), Intersil, Nokia and Lucent Technologies. At this time, there was no set standard for wireless networks or products, which caused problems for developers and for consumers alike. So, the Wi-Fi alliance encouraged compliance with the IEEE 802-11 standard created by Vic Hayes and provided a certification process so that compliant products were given permission to carry the Wi-Fi logo. The alliance was hugely successful, even more so than anticipated - so much so, in fact, that the term Wi-Fi is practically synonymous with "wireless" today.

Within one year of being founded, the Wi-Fi alliance had grown to include 36 companies. In 2001, 200 products had been certified under the 802-11b standard and 7.5 million Wi-Fi chipsets were shipped. By 2002, 100 companies had joined the Wi-Fi alliance; this number doubled to 200 in 2004. During these two years, Wi-Fi began testing under the 802-11a and 802-11g standards, which were capable of delivering 54 MBits/second, and by the end of 2003 had certified 1000 products. Wi-Fi Protected Access, or WPA, was also introduced in 2003 and helped to make wireless connections secure. Wi-Fi certified handsets and television sets were introduced to the market in late 2004, followed by a gaming device and digital still camera in 2005. 2005 was also the year in which the term Wi-Fi was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The 802-11n standard was introduced in 2007, which could transfer an outstanding maximum of 250 MBits/second (though some are now capable of 300 MB/sec). In 2008, the 5,000th product was certified, and recently in 2009, the one billionth Wi-Fi chipset was sold.

Functions, Uses and Compatibility of Wi-Fi Certified Wireless Networks

Nowadays, it’s almost given that any widely used wireless router available for purchase will be Wi-Fi compliant. This means that, as long as it’s working properly, it should be compatible with other Wi-Fi compliant products: computers and laptops, cell phones, various handheld devices, et cetera. Wi-Fi certification generally eliminates any incompatibility issues that might be a problem otherwise. Thanks to the popularity of the Wi-Fi alliance, it’s usually safe to assume that commercially available products are built to be compatible (but it’s always a good idea to check first). With fully functional wireless networks, compatible devices within range of a wireless router may connect and use it to connect to the Internet or to the LAN (Local Area Network), depending on how the router and network are configured. Wireless networks do have effective optional security functions, so users may be required to provide a password or to register prior to accessing the network. Once a user has completed any required steps, they may access certain parts of the network or use it to its full extent, depending on how it is configured.

Wi-Fi Wireless Networks at Active Communication Company Ltd

All the different aspects of Wi-Fi systems can be fairly complicated, especially when the network needs to be large and accessible through an entire building. That’s why Active Communication Company Ltd is standing by to help. ACCL conducts wireless surveys and works within any budget to find a plan which is both affordable and effective. At Active Communication Company Ltd, businesses can be sure to find the most experienced assistance around. Certified professionals are ready to help from beginning to end: conducting a survey, making and approving a plan, installing the network system, and providing assistance and training. For any building that wants a solidly tailored Wi-Fi wireless plan, ACCL is the perfect choice. Contact ACCL today for a free on-site consultation!

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