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Thread: Wi-Fi

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    Wi-Fi (IPA: /ˈwaɪfaɪ/) is the trade name for a popular wireless technology used in home networks, mobile phones, video games and more. Wi-Fi is supported by nearly every modern personal computer operating system and most advanced game consoles.


    The purpose of Wi-Fi is to hide complexity by enabling wireless access to applications and data, media and streams. The main aims of Wi-Fi are:

    * facilitate access to information
    * ensure compatibility and coexistence
    * eliminate cabling and wiring
    * eliminate switches, adapters, plugs and connectors.


    A Wi-Fi enabled device such as a PC, game console, cell phone, MP3 player or PDA can connect to the Internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the Internet. The coverage of one or more interconnected access points called a hotspot can comprise an area as small as a single room with wireless-opaque walls or as large as many square miles covered by overlapping access points. Wi-Fi technology has served to set up mesh networks, for example, in London. Both architectures can operate in community networks.

    In addition to restricted use in homes and offices, Wi-Fi can make access publicly available at Wi-Fi hotspots provided either free of charge or to subscribers to various providers. Organizations and businesses such as airports, hotels and restaurants often provide free hotspots to attract or assist clients. Enthusiasts or authorities who wish to provide services or even to promote business in a given area sometimes provide free Wi-Fi access. Metropolitan-wide Wi-Fi (Muni-Fi) already has more than 300 projects in process.

    Wi-Fi also allows connectivity in peer-to-peer (wireless ad-hoc network) mode, which enables devices to connect directly with each other. This connectivity mode can prove useful in consumer electronics and gaming applications.

    When wireless networking technology first entered the market many problems ensued for consumers who could not rely on products from different vendors working together. The Wi-Fi Alliance began as a community to solve this issue aiming to address the needs of the end-user and to allow the technology to mature. The Alliance created the branding Wi-Fi CERTIFIED to reassure consumers that products will interoperate with other products displaying the same branding.

    Many consumer devices use Wi-Fi. Amongst others, personal computers can network to each other and connect to the Internet, mobile computers can connect to the Internet from any Wi-Fi hotspot, and digital cameras can transfer images wirelessly.

    Routers which incorporate a DSL-modem or a cable-modem and a Wi-Fi access point, often set up in homes and other premises, provide Internet-access and internetworking to all devices connected (wirelessly or by cable) to them. One can also connect Wi-Fi devices in ad-hoc mode for client-to-client connections without a router.

    As of 2007 Wi-Fi technology had spread widely within business and industrial sites. In business environments, just like other environments, increasing the number of Wi-Fi access-points provides redundancy, support for fast roaming and increased overall network-capacity by using more channels or by defining smaller cells. Wi-Fi enables wireless voice-applications (VoWLAN or WVOIP). Over the years, Wi-Fi implementations have moved toward "thin" access-points, with more of the network intelligence housed in a centralized network appliance, relegating individual access-points to the role of mere "dumb" radios. Outdoor applications may utilize true mesh topologies. As of 2007 Wi-Fi installations can provide a secure computer networking gateway, firewall, DHCP server, intrusion detection system, and other functions.

    Operational advantages

    Wi-Fi allows LANs (Local Area Networks) to be deployed without cabling for client devices, typically reducing the costs of network deployment and expansion. Spaces where cables cannot be run, such as outdoor areas and historical buildings, can host wireless LANs.

    As of 2007, wireless network adapters are built into most modern laptops. The price of chipsets for Wi-Fi continues to drop, making it an economical networking option included in ever more devices. Wi-Fi has become widespread in corporate infrastructures.

    Different competitive brands of access points and client network interfaces are inter-operable at a basic level of service. Products designated as "Wi-Fi Certified" by the Wi-Fi Alliance are backwards compatible. Wi-Fi is a global set of standards. Unlike mobile telephones, any standard Wi-Fi device will work anywhere in the world.

    Wi-Fi is widely available in more than 220,000 public hotspots and tens of millions of homes and corporate and university campuses worldwide. WPA is not easily cracked if strong passwords are used and WPA2 encryption has no known weaknesses. New protocols for Quality of Service (WMM) make Wi-Fi more suitable for latency-sensitive applications (such as voice and video), and power saving mechanisms (WMM Power Save) improve battery operation.


    Spectrum assignments and operational limitations are not consistent worldwide. Most of Europe allows for an additional 2 channels beyond those permitted in the U.S. for the 2.4 GHz band. (113 vs. 111); Japan has one more on top of that (114). Europe, as of 2007, was essentially homogeneous in this respect. A very confusing aspect is the fact that a Wi-Fi signal actually occupies five channels in the 2.4 GHz band resulting in only three non-overlapped channels in the U.S.: 1, 6, 11, and three or four in Europe: 1, 5, 9, 13 can be used if all the equipment on a specific area can be granted not to use 802.11b at all, even as fallback or beacon. Equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) in the EU is limited to 20 dBm (0.1 W).

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