What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi allows you to access the Internet wirelessly. In fact, much of the world’s online activity takes place wirelessly thanks to Wi-Fi technology. Wi-Fi has revolutionized how people see the Internet and use it. Many traditional limitations caused by “wired” Internet can be overcome entirely with this amazing tool. In a business context, Wi-Fi can help you improve productivity by unleashing Internet capabilities, such as Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. In every industry and almost every setting, people can use Wi-Fi to expand the horizons of work (or play!). Small businesses, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), large corporations, independent workers, freelancers and other organizations can generally deploy Wi-Fi systems quickly so that the entire team can connect.

Wi-Fi can help you:

  • Connect Online–Bring Internet access to your employees, visitors and customers within a certain distance. It is easy for anyone to connect and you have control over access.
  • Reduce Wires–As a wireless technology, Wi-Fi empowers you to do more with data transfer.
  • Take Advantage of IoT Technology–Connecting more devices and using new IoT systems can help you get more done. Smart products usually need to connect wirelessly to the Internet, so it makes sense to connect using Wi-Fi.

For your business, you can connect to different types of standards of Wi-Fi and have the signals reach specific distances in your offices, buildings or other work settings. Wi-Fi has a broad range of capabilities and uses. While Wi-Fi is mostly associated with using the Internet, there are actually other ways you can use this technology, too. Wirelessly transmitting data can be useful for many different reasons and purposes.

In this article, we will review the basics of how Wi-Fi works and introduce different types of Wi-Fi. Finally, we will discuss some of Wi-Fi’s many practical applications.

This post:

  1. How Does Wi-Fi Work?
  2. Types of Wi-Fi Standards
  3. Uses for Wi-Fi
  4. Should I Use Wi-Fi for My Business?
  5. Wi-Fi Tips

How Does Wi-Fi Work?

Essentially, Wi-Fi uses radio frequencies to communicate data over short distances, just like how AM and FM radios work. This can replace the cables and wires that electronics traditionally use to transfer data. Within homes, offices and other places, Wi-Fi can help people use and access electronic information quickly and easily.

When a Wi-Fi device transfers information, it is doing much more than simply sending data over to the receiving device. Wi-Fi uses Internet Protocol (IP) as a language to “speak” data. Each transmission requires a corresponding confirmation indicating that the data was received and accepted. So, in reality, two transmissions are occurring, as a sort of dance between the devices communicating. In contrast to simple radio communications, Wi-Fi is a more complex conversation with data sent and received by both parties.

With radio transmissions, the amount of data sent and the distance the signals travel between the sender and recipient can impact the transmission’s quality. Lower frequencies are capable of traveling longer distances, whereas higher frequencies can transmit a great quantity of data. Wi-Fi can use higher or lower frequencies. Interference with other radio devices is always a possibility, so Wi-Fi devices can adjust to different channels. Typically, this is an automatic process.

Two frequencies, 2.4 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz, are available for Wi-Fi connections. For many residential or small area applications, for instance, a five gigahertz connection can reach the entire location while also carrying a sufficient amount of data. A 2.4 gigahertz connection would reach farther, and so it might be better for larger areas, but it is not capable of transferring as much data.

Types of Wi-Fi Standards

Wi-Fi uses 802.11 networking, regardless of the type of connection. There are different standards available and these are set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Older Wi-Fi standards may not accomplish as much as newer types, so it is important to consider how each standard works differently and what it offers.

802.11n

This standard is compatible with 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g, three previous standards of Wi-Fi. It is faster and capable of transmitting more data with a greater range than the other previous standards. Transferring data as quickly as 140 megabits per second, this standard can use multiple data streams.

802.11ac

This standard is even faster and more capable than 802.11n. It has speeds of up to 3.47 gigabits per second in the original release and nearly seven gigabits per second in a new version. As of 2017, it is the latest standard available.

802.11ax

802.11ax is the bleeding-edge Wi-Fi standard and is only partially available until it is finalized (which may happen in 2019). It is expected to dramatically increase wireless speeds and capability. Speeds of 10 gigabits per second are likely.

Uses for Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi has many different uses. Of course, you can use Wi-Fi to connect your computers and other devices to the Internet. Besides getting online, though, you can also use Wi-Fi to connect other devices and accomplish different personal and business tasks.

Connect Office Devices to Each Other

Link your computers to printers, connect to scanners, stream music, create wireless connections and easily use your Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Transfer Data to and from Your Smartphone

You can use Wi-Fi to stream music, send files, transfer photos and send other data to and from smartphones.

File-Sharing to and from Office Computers

Share your files with colleagues and conduct other networking.

Use IoT Devices to Boost Your Business

IoT devices that connect to the Internet to help you accomplish tasks, such as everyday appliances and wireless electronics, can help you improve productivity. Smart devices that interact with your smartphone or tablet can also help you accomplish more at work, and these devices frequently use Wi-Fi.

If you have a Wi-Fi enabled device and use Wi-Fi networking, there are likely other uses, too. You can get a little creative with using Wi-Fi and find many different ways to use it.

Should I Use Wi-Fi for My Business?

If you need to wirelessly use the Internet or connect together devices, Wi-Fi technology may make a lot of sense for your business.

Getting Started with Wi-Fi

Different routers are available to take a cable, fiber optic or other connection and use Wi-Fi to transmit radio signals. Routers differ in the Wi-Fi standards they use, so be sure to shop around for the type of router you need if you plan to use it. Devices may differ in how they use Wi-Fi, so that is also something to keep in mind.

Wi-Fi Tips

If you are thinking about using Wi-Fi for your business, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Find out how much speed and capability you need. If you expect many different users to connect simultaneously, you may need devices using a newer standard.
  2. A signal extender can help your signals reach further. They do, however, have limitations and the amount of data that can be transmitted at once may decrease. The signal may become weaker.
  3. Consider the distance you will need. Whenever possible, keep devices closer together for the best signals.
  4. Barriers, such as walls and other objects, may interfere somewhat with signals. Wi-Fi can function through physical barriers but performance may decrease.
  5. Older standards may work perfectly fine for your network and can help you save money. Expect newer standards to offer more, however.

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