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Our office will be closed Monday February 17th for Canada's Family Day and will reopen on Tuesday February 18th.
From management and staff, we wish everyone a happy and safe holiday.

Wi-Fi Fundamentals


What Is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi, short for Wireless Fidelity, is a radio technology that lets users get high speed internet access without being tied by cord or cable to an internet connection. How? Service providers create what is called an access point by connecting specialized Wi-Fi radio equipment to a broadband modem, which in turn is linked to a high-speed internet connection such as DSL. This radio signaling equipment transmits data at very high speed using a special protocol (802.11b/g/n), typically over a range of 100 to several hundred feet and more. This range varies depending upon the antenna used, the terrain, buildings, etc. The area covered by an access point is known in Wi-Fi jargon as a "Hot Spot". A computer (or other device such as a laptop or PDA) equipped with a wireless network receiver can pick up the radio signal and enable the user to connect, wirelessly and at high speed, to the internet.

Is It Safe?
The power output of Wireless Wi-Fi devices is relatively low and poses no harm.

How It Works
A wireless network uses radio waves, just like cell phones, televisions and radios do. In fact, communication across a wireless network is two-way radio. Here's what happens:

  1. A computer's wireless adapter translates data into a radio signal and transmits it using an antenna.
  2. A wireless router receives the signal and decodes it. The router sends the information to the internet using a physical, wired ethernet connection.
The process also works in reverse, with the router receiving information from the internet, translating it into a radio signal and sending it to the computer's wireless adapter. The radios used for Wi-Fi communication are very similar to the radios used for walkie-talkies, cell phones and other devices. They can transmit and receive radio waves, and they can convert 1s and 0s into radio waves and convert the radio waves back into 1s and 0s. But Wi-Fi radios have a few notable differences from other radios:
  • They transmit at frequencies of 2.4 GHz. This frequency is considerably higher than the frequencies used for cell phones, walkie-talkies and televisions. The higher frequency allows the signal to carry more data.
  • They use 802.11 networking standards, which come in several flavours:
    802.11b is the slowest and least expensive standard. For a while, its cost made it popular, but now it's becoming less common as faster standards become less expensive. It can handle up to 11 megabits of data per second.
    802.11g transmits like 802.11b, but it's a lot faster -- it can handle up to 54 megabits of data per second.
    802.11n is the latest standard that is becoming widely available and is being found at more and more access point hotspots. While it promises faster speeds up to 300mbps, it is more reasonable to expect speeds of up to 150mbps. 

Faster Is Better - Not!
Using speeds such as 54 megabits/second (mbps) or higher may sound good, but the reality is that the internet connection you'll ultimately connect to will likely be limited to just a few mbps at best. Higher speeds require more power and the data will only move as fast as the slowest link to the internet. Connecting at lower speeds will use less power and still provide the same throughput in almost all situations.

Wireless Network Congestion
Several devices can use one access point to connect to the internet. This connection is convenient, virtually invisible and fairly reliable; however, if too many people try to use high-bandwidth applications at the same time, users can experience interference or lose their connections. This situation has nothing to do with signal strength or access point location.


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