Wireless communication refers to the transfer of information between two or more points which are not connected by an electrical cord. The most common wireless technologies use electromagnetic wireless telecommunications, such as radio. Distances can be made shorter using radio waves. A few meters in the case of television and thousands or even millions of kilometers in the case of deep-space communications.
Radio wireless technology includes various types of fixed, mobile and portable applications, including two-way radios, cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and wireless networking. Other examples of radio wireless technology applications are GPS units, garage door openers, wireless computer mice, keyboards as well as many other devices that can operate and communicate without the use of wires or cords.
One of the best known examples of wireless technology is the mobile phone, also known as the cellular phone. The popularity of mobile phones increases every year. In 2012, there were almost 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, that means that nearly every person in the world had a mobile phone. Several people in developed nations account for more than one phone per person. These wireless phones use radio waves to enable their users to make phone calls from several locations worldwide, when used within the range of cell towers which are required to send and receive the radio signals.
One of the most common uses of wireless technology today is WiFi which allows an electronic device to exchange data or connect to the internet using radio waves. The WiFi Alliance defines WiFi as any “wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 standards. However, since most modern WLANs are based on these standards, the term “WiFi” is used in general English as a synonym for “WLAN”.
Several different types of devices can use WiFi including, personal computers, video game consoles, smartphones, tablet computers and digital audio players. These devices can connect to a network like the internet by using a wireless network access point.
One of the drawbacks of a WiFi connection is that it can be less secure than a wired connection, such as an Ethernet wired connection, because an intruder doesn’t need a physical connection to hack into the system. WiFi has adopted various encryption technologies, to combat this problem.
To connect to a WiFi, a computer has to be equipped with a wireless network interface controller. When combined with a computer, this is called a station. All stations use a single radio frequency communication channel. Transmissions on this channel are received by all stations within range.
A device that has WiFi capabilities can connect to the Internet when it is within range of a wireless network which is configured to allow it. Access that includes one or more connected access points is called a hotspot. A hotspot can range in size from one room to several square miles if overlapping access points.
WiFi provides internet access in private home as well as businesses and public places. Organizations and businesses, such as airports, hotels and restaurants often provide free use hotspots to attract customers.
In the early 2000s, several cities around the world announced their plans to construct citywide WiFi networks. Several cities have been able to accomplish this. In 2004, Mycore became India’s first WiFi enabled city and the second in the world after Jerusalem. In 2005, Sunnyvale, California, became the first city in the United States to offer city-wide free WiFi.
WiFi also makes it possible for one computer to communicate with another computer without an access point intermediary. This is called ad hoc WiFi transmission. This wireless ad hoc network mode has become popular with multi-player handheld game consoles, including Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable and other consumer devices.
A major advantage to WiFi is it allows the cheaper deployment of local area networks (LANs). It also makes access possible where cables can’t be run, such as outdoor areas and historical buildings.
Wireless data communications are very important to mobile computing. The various technologies available differ in local availability, coverage range and performance. In some circumstances, users need to be able to have multiple connection types available with the ability to switch between them. To simplify this, connection manager software can be used, or a mobile VPN used to handle the multiple connections as a secure, single virtual network.
Another benefit of using wireless technology came with the increase in customer frustration with cord clutter. Several manufacturers of computer peripherals turned to wireless technology to satisfy their consumer base. In the beginning these units used bulky, and very limited transceivers to intercede between a computer and a keyboard or mouse.
However, recent generations of wireless interface devices have used small, high-quality devices, some even use Bluetooth technology. These systems have become so common that some users have actually begun complaining about the lack of wired peripherals. The reason for this is that wireless devices usually have a slightly slower response time than their wired equivalents. Although, as users become more accustomed to the wireless devices, this problem is becoming less and less noticeable.
Wireless technology has made it possible for people the freedom to use their devices wherever and whenever they want, without being tethered to cables or cords.