Wi-Fi Guide

Overview | Advantage | Configurations

Wi-Fi Means Mobility

How Does Wi-Fi Compare to Other Networking Methods?
Is a Wired, Wireless or Wireless/Wired Network Best For You?

Wi-Fi connects you to others and to the Internet without the restriction of wires, cables or fixed connections. Wi-Fi gives you freedom to change locations and to have full access to your files, office and network connections wherever you are. And Wi-Fi can do this better than other technologies used to set up a home or SOHO (small office home office) network. In addition Wi-Fi will easily extend an established wired network.

How Does Wi-Fi Compare to Other Networking Methods?

No other networking technology used to set up a small home or SOHO network provides the convenience or mobility of a Wi-Fi network. That's because other methods, including standard wired Ethernet networks and phone line- and power line-based networks, all require a connection via wire or cable. Wi-Fi uses radio waves that travel through walls and floors and connect you anywhere, indoors or out.

Networks based on phone lines, also called HomePNA, must have a phone jack close to the computer or peripheral that is to be networked with the rest of your system. Unfortunately, most homes have only two or three phone outlets or even just one! and these outlets may not be where you want to put your computer, printer or other device. You may have problems with this type of network based on the quality of your phone line installation and especially if you have numerous phone devices plugged into each wall jack.

Networks based on power lines, also called HomePlug, have location problems, too. Of course, there are many more power outlets in a home than there are phone plugs, but power plugs may not be where you need them when you need them, especially outdoors.

Power line networks are often more expensive than Wi-Fi based equipment. Power line networks can experience interference from transformers, large appliances, power strips, surge protectors and even common "wall warts" (DV power supplies). In addition, apartments and condominiums that share power lines may also inadvertently share access to confidential files and information on the computers that are attached to the power line network even if users think they've established tight security protections

Neither power line - nor phone line-based networks provide true mobility or portability.

These technologies don't allow you to just pick up your laptop or PDA and go anywhere in your home or small office and begin working or continue working in another location without losing contact with your network. Working outside on your patio or next to the pool is an impossibility. And since power-line and phone line-based networks aren't available at "HotSpots" (e.g., airports, hotels and cafes), localized access networks or at the office, they can't be used when traveling or working in a corporate office.


Is a Wired, Wireless or Wireless/Wired Network Best For You?

If you are using mostly desktop computers, a wired network may work fine. However, for mobility, modifications and growth (especially if you are running a small business), Wi-Fi provides the best answer because it enables you to move the computers anywhere in the building where they can connect to the wireless network. If you or your company moves to a new location, you don't need to leave your cables, cable drops and other network investments behind. The entire wireless network comes with you and takes only moments to set up in a new location.

Obviously if you are using laptop computers and/or other kinds of mobile computing devices, Wi-Fi is the only answer for both home and business.

If you already have a functioning wired network, it's easy to just keep it in place and add wireless components to extend your network's reach and give users more flexibility and convenience. Many home and SOHO (Small Office Home Office) access points and gateways allow you to easily connect to both wired and wireless equipment through their installed Ethernet ports.

Corporations frequently extend their wired networks with Wi-Fi networks. They connect wireless access points to their network backbone to provide Internet and network access in meeting rooms, lobbies, cafeterias and other common areas.

Companies also add wireless access points in their general office space to make it easy for staff to meet informally. For example, someone from marketing can carry his or her laptop to the sales manager's office two floors up and, via the wireless network there, make a presentation on the spot using their laptop. When employees are mobile, as in a large warehouse or shipping center, Wi-Fi networks can easily cover the entire area: staff can operate anywhere in the building, not just at predetermined desktops and workstations


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