Wi-Fi is the common term used to denote the radio-frequency standards outlined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 protocol for wireless local area networks (WLAN). Since almost every modern WLAN is based off the IEEE 802.11 standard, the term Wi-Fi has become synonymous with it.
By combining a wireless access node with a wireless antenna within the device (such as a residential router with Wi-Fi capability and an iPad with a built-in Wi-Fi antenna), Wi-Fi allows users to enjoy wire-free network access as long as they are within transmission range of the Wi-Fi node. Such areas of Wi-Fi coverage are known as “hot spots”.
Wi-Fi speed and security has increased greatly since its introduction in the late 1990s. Early Wi-Fi networks, using the 802.11b standard, were slow (11Mbit/s max. speed) and poorly secured (WEP, an early Wi-Fi encryption technique was very easy to crack); more recent revisions like 802.11n have a max. speed of 600 Mbit/s and employ significantly more secure encryption methods like WPA2.
For more information about improving your Wi-Fi experience, check out How-To Geek articles like: Change Your Wi-Fi Router Channel to Optimize Your Wireless Signal, The How-To Geek Guide to Scoring Free Wi-Fi, The Best Wi-Fi Articles for Securing Your Network and Optimizing Your Router.
- By Jason Fitzpatrick on 12/31/12