How Wi-Fi Works

Wi-Fi is the most popular way to connect to the Internet, with 60% of people connecting wirelessly. For most people, however, it’s practically magic how it works, so in this blog, we’ll look at how the technology actually works.

Designed to replace cables, like wireless technology, it uses radio waves, just like an old-fashioned tranny. A radio system uses a transmitter and a receiver that turns radio waves into a signal which is then turned into sound inside your radio’s circuitry. Wi-Fi works on a similar principle, except there is a transmitter and receiver on each side. Each transmitter and receiver uses Internet Protocol to check that every byte has been transmitted and more importantly received correctly.

The Wi-Fi specification offers two frequencies that the transmitters transmit on. These are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. 2.4 GHz can transmit further because lower frequencies can broadcast further. 5 GHz offers more channels to transmit on. You don’t have to worry about these because your device will automatically find the frequency that is best to use at that moment in time. The best way to think about this is to imagine a road with many lanes. The 5GHz road will be shorter with more lanes, whereas the 2.4 GHz will have fewer lanes but goes further. For most people, 5GHz offers enough distance to use at home.

What if my signal doesn’t reach a room in my house?

Radio waves move their way around by banging off of walls, so you might find you lose signal at the end of your house that isn’t close to your router. To overcome this problem, there is a trend for a signal booster, that will boost your signal, meaning you can pick it up much further from your router.

Is it secure?

Wi-Fi is a secure technology with encryption at both ends, meaning only your device and the transmitter are the only places that know the exact data being transmitted. It does this by using an encryption technology called Advanced Encryption Standard.

Is it backwards compatible?

In short, yes. No matter how old your device with Wi-Fi is it will connect to the latest routers, meaning your older devices won’t quite be obsolete yet.

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