What is Wi-Fi and how does it work?

Wifi is a wireless technology used to connect your computer, tablet, phone and other devices to the internet. It is actually a radio signal that is sent from a wireless router to a nearby device. It converts the signal into data that the user can then use. The device sends the radio signal to the router, which connects to the internet cable.

It’s basically a very advanced radio used between 2GHz and 5GHz in the electromagnetic spectrum, which is about the same as a microwave oven. Wifi became ubiquitous support in laptops over a decade ago and we use it every day. What does the word Wifi actually mean? Phil Belanger, a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, explained it by saying that Wifi doesn’t mean anything, it’s not a word and the acronym has no meaning. But the truth is that the organization needed a name for its standard that was easier to remember than IEE 802.11b Direct Sequence. So they hired a marketing agency to come up with the name Wifi.

The history of wifi begins in 1971. The ALOHAnet wireless network connected the Hawaiian Islands. In 1991, NCR Corporation created a predecessor to Wifi as a way to connect treasure chests called WaveLAN. It became so popular that eventually the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the 802.11 standard that we know today as just Wifi. In 1999, the Wi-fi Alliance came into existence as a trade association and has owned the trademark Wifi since that year. In 2003, the higher speeds and distance coverage of earlier versions of Wifi combined to create the 802.11g standard. In the same year, Wifi began to catch up with its speed to traditional wired connections.

In 2009, the final version of 802.11n appeared, which was even faster and more reliable. This improvement is attributed to “Multiplex input multiplex output” figures called MIMO, which use multiple antennas to improve both transmitter and receiver communications. This allowed for a significant increase in data without the need for higher bandwidth or transmit power.

The extended 2.4 GHz range meant that more devices were using the same frequency. This in turn caused network slowdown and congestion. 5GHz became a more attractive option as a result. This problem was addressed by the creation of dual-band routers. These routers contained two types of wireless radios that could simultaneously support 2.4GHz and 5GHz links. By default, devices within range of the dual-band router automatically switched to the faster and more efficient 5GHz frequency. As the device would be further away or behind a wall, 2.4 Ghz could be used as a backup.

Since 2012, the goal of 802.11ac has been to improve the 5 GHz range. It had 4x the ability to support more antennas and more bandwidth than Wifi 8001.11n. This meant that data was sent faster. That same year, the concept of Beamforming was born, which Eric Geier explains as focusing the signal and concentrating the data transmission so that more data reaches the target device.

The way Wifi works has changed fundamentally over the last decade. The release of Wifi 6 in 2020 held great promise for faster connectivity and interconnection between technologies with speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps. Which is almost 300% more than Wifi 5.

The reason for the leap in Wifi 6 speeds is due to the technology used to measure the problems with overloaded devices. Wifi 6 routers are also capable of communicating with multiple devices at once, allowing routers to send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast.

The difference between Wifi and internet

The ISP will provide the user with an Internet connection and services, while Wifi is a wireless connectivity tool that users connect to their local network.

Wifi and internet are words that are often used interchangeably and people don’t realize that they are two completely different terms.

  • Wifi is a wireless, portable device that allows you to connect electronic devices, transmit data such as internet services or communicate with each other without the use of cables. Communication is done using radio waves and signals picked up from the device.
  • The Internet is a global computer network that provides a variety of information and communication devices, pieced together from interconnected networks that use the Internet Protocol to connect devices around the world.

The Internet uses a language called the Internet Protocol, which allows devices around the world to send and receive data and information from each other. Without this language, devices would not be able to communicate.

Wifi, on the other hand, is considered more of a type of radio signal that allows devices to wirelessly connect to each other to transmit data. Compared to physical network cables, which used to be the only way to connect multiple devices on a local area network. Generally, a Wifi network is enabled through a router, which then allows all devices connected to the network to share data and participate in other local activities.

Where Wifi connects devices locally, the Internet connects devices from around the world. Simply put, the Internet connects networks using millions of routers. While the user has full control over his Wifi network, he has little control over the Internet connection. That depends on the ISP.

To summarize the difference between Wifi and the Internet, Wifi serves as a gateway for devices to share information, while the Internet allows devices around the world to communicate with each other.

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