The term “wireless Internet” refers specifically to a wireless method of sending and receiving data across the Internet rather than using the wired “backbone” infrastructure. It is also sometimes used to describe a wireless network within your home or office or many retail locations around the world. The latter is more accurately called a “wireless network” or “wireless networking”, and this article will explain both wireless Internet and wireless networking.
There are three types of wireless Internet that both send and receive data
1. Point Distribution Wireless Internet
This type of wireless Internet utilizes unlicensed bands on the radio spectrum rather than the wired telephone backbone infrastructure. Transmitter towers send the Internet signal out and transceivers that are within visible range, usually no more than 8-10 km or 4-6 miles, can both pick up and transmit over the same frequency.
2. Mesh Wireless Internet
In a mesh wireless Internet network, one node or gateway has a wired access to the Internet and uses radio frequencies to wirelessly share the Internet signal which can hop across multiple nodes, extending the reach of the original node.
3. Satellite Wireless Internet
Using satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which means they stay in the same position in the sky relative to a point on the earth, Internet connectivity can be provided to many locations around the world that do not have access to the wired backbone, similar to the way satellite television access works.
Combination Wired and Wireless Networks
Cellular Wireless Internet Network
Cellular Internet services utilize both the wired backbone of the public switched telephone network and a network of cellular broadcast towers that transmit and receive the signal. This is the network that cell phones and PDAs use both for voice and Internet connectivity.
Hot Spot Wireless Internet Access
A public wireless hot spot provides Internet connectivity for computer, PDA or cell phone access within a range of 300-600 feet. Many hot spot networks at airports, restaurants and other retail locations charge a fee for hourly access or offer monthly subscriptions. Some locations provide this WiFi access free of charge to customers. Some cities provide multiple WiFi access points throughout the city that can be used anywhere within range. This Internet connectivity may utilize a wired connection to the Internet like fiber optic or DSL, or it may get its Internet signal from a wireless Internet source like satellite.
Wireless Networking at Home or Office
Regardless of whether the Internet signal to your home is provided by wire or wireless, you can have a wireless network inside your home just like the “hot spot” locations have. If your Internet connectivity is provided by the wired backbone infrastructure (either by dialup, DSL, cable or fiber optic) you will need a special device called a “wireless router”. The wireless router is connected via a cable to your Internet source and uses an antenna to broadcast the signal throughout your home. Wireless enabled devices (computers, PDAs and cell phones) within your home can then connect to the Internet from anywhere inside.
If the Internet signal to your home is wireless, via satellite or radio tower transmitters, you may have a completely wireless configuration where you have a transceiver that pulls in the signal from the outside and then transmits to your computer or other devices in the house, or you may have a router inside the house that connects to the transceiver, either wirelessly or with a cable.
Having a wireless network opens up many possibilities.
Wireless networks provide an inexpensive and easy way to share a single Internet connection among several computers. This means you only need one modem, and you can add additional computers to the network just by plugging in a wireless card and turning them on. The new machines are connected to the Internet immediately.
A wireless network also lets you access files and printers from anywhere in your home. It allows you to synchronize files you have on your laptop with your home computer, and you can easily send files between computers as well. Using a wireless network to transfer files is faster than sending them via e-mail or burning them to a CD! Because printers connected to one of the computers on a network are shared by all the computers on that network, you can write documents anywhere in your home, press the print button, and collect the printed files from a printer that is connected to another computer.
If you are a game player, you have probably noticed that your games often have an option to play over a local area network or LAN. Wireless networks are LANs! This means you and your family can play these games together and do not have to be on computers that are next to each other to do so. Lets face it, it is more fun to play against real people, and it is even more fun to play against people you know instead of strangers on the Internet. Your games will also play much faster over your LAN.
Additionally, you can connect game consoles to the Internet and begin playing these games online. It is much easier to experience online play through an Xbox or PlayStation 2 that is connected to a wireless network than have to use a modem!
Wireless network connections are always on. This means you can connect to the Internet whenever you want without waiting for your modem to dial in. Laptops can be carried from room to room, and they will always have access to the Internet. Since wireless networks operate without the need to log in, you do not need to set up usernames or passwords.
The single greatest thing about a wireless network is that it is, well, wireless! The biggest reason to have a wireless network is because it eliminates the need for costly, ugly, and dangerous wires trailing all over your house. You can use your computer in any room you want no more being trapped near a phone outlet or walking over that tangle of wires in your home.
The cost of getting enough Ethernet cables can add up, and sometimes, you may even have to make holes in your walls to set up a wired network. If you are renting, of course, this is impossible. With a wireless network, you do not have these problems – you can even use your computer outside if you want! And if you move, there is no need to disconnect and pack up all those wires, and you no longer have to examine all the wires for damage whenever your Internet connection goes down.
You can see how having a wireless network can simplify your life.