Wi-Fi is the trade name for the popular wireless technology used in home networks, mobile phones, video games and more. In particular, it covers the various IEEE 802.11 technologies (including 802.11n, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a).

                   Wi-Fi technologies are supported by nearly every modern personal computer operating system and most advanced game consoles, printers, and other peripherals.

Origin and meaning of the term "Wi-Fi" :

The term "Wi-Fi" suggests "Wireless Fidelity", comparing with the long-established audio recording term "High Fidelity" or "Hi-Fi", and "Wireless Fidelity" has often been used in an informal way, even by the Wi-Fi Alliance itself, but officially the term does not mean anything.

"Wi-Fi" was coined by a brand consulting firm called Interbrand Corporation that had been hired by the Alliance to determine a name that was "a little catchier than 'IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence'."[25][26][27]Interbrand invented "Wi-Fi" as simply a play-on-words with "Hi-Fi", as well as creating the yin yang style Wi-Fi logo.

The Wi-Fi Alliance initially complicated matters by stating that it actually stood for "Wireless Fidelity", as with the advertising slogan "The Standard for Wireless Fidelity",[26] but later removed the phrase from their marketing. The Wi-Fi Alliance's early White Papers still held in their knowledge base: "… a promising market for wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) network equipment."[28] and "A Short History of WLANs." The yin yang logo indicates that a product had been certified for interoperability.[29]

The Alliance has since downplayed the connection to "Hi-Fi". Their official position is that it is merely a brand name that stands for nothing in particular, and they now discourage the use of the term "Wireless Fidelity".


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 the following:

make access to information easier
ensure compatibility and co-existence of devices
eliminate cabling and wiring
eliminate switches, adapters, plugs, pins and connectors.


A Wi-Fi enabled device such as a PC, game console, mobile 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.[1] 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.[2] There were 879 Wi-Fi based Wireless Internet service providers in the Czech Republic as of May 2008.[3][4]

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.

In 2008, 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 even 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.[5] 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.

Limitations :
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. (1–13 vs. 1–11); Japan has one more on top of that (1–14). 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).

Reach :

Due to reach requirements for wireless LAN applications, power consumption is fairly high compared to some other low-bandwidth standards. Especially Zigbee and Bluetooth supporting wireless PAN applications refer to much lesser propagation range of <10m>Mobility:

Because of the very limited practical range of Wi-Fi, mobile use is essentially confined to such applications as inventory taking machines in warehouses or retail spaces, barcode reading devices at check-out stands or receiving / shipping stations. Mobile use of Wi-Fi over wider ranges is limited to move, use, move, as for instance in an automobile moving from one hotspot to another. Other wireless technologies are more suitable as illustrated in the graphic.


Standard devices
An embedded RouterBoard 112 with U.FL-RSMA pigtail and R52 mini PCI Wi-Fi card widely used by wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) in the Czech Republic.
OSBRiDGE 3GN - 802.11n Access Point and UMTS/GSM Gateway in one device.
USB wireless adaptorA wireless access point connects a group of wireless devices to an adjacent wired LAN. An access point is similar to a network hub, relaying data between connected wireless devices in addition to a (usually) single connected wired device, most often an ethernet hub or switch, allowing wireless devices to communicate with other wired devices.

Wireless adapters allow devices to connect to a wireless network. These adapters connect to devices using various external or internal interconnects such as PCI, miniPCI, USB, ExpressCard, Cardbus and PC card. Most newer laptop computers are equipped with internal adapters. Internal cards are generally more difficult to install.

Wireless routers integrate a WAP, ethernet switch, and internal Router firmware application that provides IP Routing, NAT, and DNS forwarding through an integrated WAN interface. A wireless router allows wired and wireless ethernet LAN devices to connect to a (usually) single WAN device such as cable modem or DSL modem. A wireless router allows all three devices (mainly the access point and router) to be configured through one central utility. This utility is most usually an integrated web server which serves web pages to wired and wireless LAN clients and often optionally to WAN clients. This utility may also be an application that is run on a desktop computer such as Apple's AirPort.

Wireless network bridges connect a wired network to a wireless network. This is different from an access point in the sense that an access point connects wireless devices to a wired network at the data-link layer. Two wireless bridges may be used to connect two wired networks over a wireless link, useful in situations where a wired connection may be unavailable, such as between two separate homes.

Wireless range extenders or wireless repeaters can extend the range of an existing wireless network. Range extenders can be strategically placed to elongate a signal area or allow for the signal area to reach around barriers such as those created in L-shaped corridors. Wireless devices connected through repeaters will suffer from an increased latency for each hop. Additionally, a wireless device connected to any of the repeaters in the chain will have a throughput that is limited by the weakest link between the two nodes in the chain from which the connection originates to where the connection ends.

Embedded systems :

Embedded serial-to-Wi-Fi moduleWi-Fi availability in the home is on the increase.[10] This extension of the Internet into the home space will increasingly be used for remote monitoring.[citation needed] Examples of remote monitoring include security systems and tele-medicine. In all these kinds of implementation, if the Wi-Fi provision is provided using a system running one of operating systems mentioned above, then it becomes unfeasible due to weight, power consumption and cost issues.

Increasingly in the last few years (particularly as of early 2007), embedded Wi-Fi modules have become available which come with a real-time operating system and provide a simple means of wireless enabling any device which has and communicates via a serial port.[11] This allows simple monitoring devices – for example, a portable ECG monitor hooked up to a patient in their home – to be created. This Wi-Fi enabled device effectively becomes part of the internet cloud and can communicate with any other node on the internet. The data collected can hop via the home's Wi-Fi access point to anywhere on the internet

City wide Wi-Fi:

Sunnyvale, California became the first city in the United States to offer city wide free Wi-Fi, [20]Corpus Christi, Texas had offered free Wi-Fi until May 31, 2007 when the network was purchased by Earthlink.[21] Philadelphia is also trying to save the Earthlink wifi for its city.[22] New Orleans had free city wide Wi-Fi shortly after Hurricane Katrina.[23] City wide Wi-Fi is available in nine cities in the UK, Newcastle Upon Tyne being the first UK city host, others include Leeds, Liverpool, Norwich and London.[24] Other cities, such as the Minneapolis metro area, have a large number of Wi-Fi hotspots so you can receive good signals anywhere, even if from different sources. In Europe, the City of Luxembourg has a city-wide Wi-Fi network.

In Latin America, Mexico City downtown has a public Wi-Fi network. Also, many public squares in towns of Puerto Rico are offering Wi-Fi Internet access.

As compared to Wireless Mesh, WiMax provides over 4 times the number of subcarriers over a variable bandwidth of 1 to 28 MHz. With more subcarriers and a variable length guard interval, the spectral efficiency has increased from 15% to 40% compared to Wireless Mesh. The error vector magnitude of Wireless Mesh is higher than WiMax. This makes WiMax have a longer range. Wireless Mesh transmits and receives functions on the same channel where as WiMax transmits and receives functions at a different channel and at a different time. In Wireless Mesh the output power is virtually fixed however in WiMax the devices closer to the base stations emit less output power whereas the ones further away emit maximum output power.

Wi-Fi can overpower WiMax if the city is meshed with hot spots. A very easy way to do it would be if mobile carriers integrate hot spots with their mobile base stations as WiMax chips are not as integrated as the Wi-Fi chips.

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