Wireless communication is all around us. This communication platform can be found in sophisticated devices such as a smartphone or satellite array. It is also found in IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as smart watches and even in modern children’s toys. It’s available in televisions, automobiles, kitchen appliances, and entertainment devices. Wireless technologies have enabled many regions around the world to communicate over long distances allowing consumption of news and entertainment.
Firstly, wireless communications standards were developed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) group and designated as 802.11. You may be surprised to know that Wi-Fi is a coined term invented by a company called Interbrand which means that Wi-Fi does not stand for anything except that it is the common term used when referring to something that can communicate wirelessly. Interbrand was hired to come up with a marketing scheme that would be catchy and easy to remember. Thus, Wi-Fi was born and with it a new group called the Wi-Fi Alliance was formed in 1999. Did you know that each device with the official Wi-Fi logo from the Wi-Fi Alliance group has undergone certification to meet the standards? Each device must meet the following requirements in order to become certified: They must conform to the IEEE 802.11 wireless radio standards, the WPA and WPA2 security standards, and EAP authentication standards. Older security standards such as the use of a WEP key are obsolete and no longer considered secure. The WEP key was commonly associated with 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices and need to be replaced.
Next, Wireless standards have been amended, ratified, and evolved over the years. One of the earliest forms of modern Wi-Fi technologies was given a designation of 802.11b. This wireless ‘B’ standard allowed for communication bandwidth up to 11Mbps. The next standard was called 802.11a which could carry 1.5 to 54Mbps bandwidth. Continuing up the ladder there are a few more standards that were created to increase bandwidth and performance. 802.11g supporting 3 to 54Mbps with implementations later that allow up to 108Mbps. 802.11n supporting 72 to 600Mbps (also referred to as Wi-Fi 4). 802.11ac supporting 433 to 6933 Mbps (also referred to as Wi-Fi 5). 802.11ax supporting 600 to 9608Mbps (also referred to as Wi-Fi 6)
Furthermore, in the most basic sense, wireless technologies require two main devices in order to communicate with each other. Those devices are transmitters and receivers. The ability to transmit or receive data is accomplished by antennas. For example, a cell phone or modern smartphone is connected to a wireless (or cellular) provider that sends (or transmits) data to your device which receives the data and through the magic of programming the device interprets the data so that your phone can display the information. Let’s look at the devices in your home. A wireless network in your house will consist of a wireless router (transmitter) and any number of devices (receivers). These receiving devices could be a computer, laptop, smartphone, gaming console (XBOX, PS4, Nintendo Switch), television, etc.
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