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What is a Wi-Fi network?

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Quick Answer

A Wi-Fi network is a wireless network that uses radio waves to provide high-speed Internet and other network connections. The term "Wi-Fi" is a trademarked phrase that means "IEEE 802.11x."

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Full Answer

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the company that owns the "Wi-Fi" registered trademark, Wi-Fi is any "wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.11 standards." A Wi-Fi network does not require a physical wired connection in order to relay information between the sender and the receiver. Instead, it utilizes RF, or radio frequency technology, where an RF current gets sent to an antenna, thereby creating an electromagnetic field that is able to penetrate and propagate through space. The access point, or AP, is a main part of the Wi-Fi network; it broadcasts wireless signals which computers can detect and connect to. Before a computer can connect to a Wi-Fi access point it must have a wireless network adapter.

Most applications and devices support Wi-Fi networks, with video game consoles, televisions and mobile phones all being supporters of the technology. In fact, any product that has been deemed "Wi-Fi Certified" by the Wi-Fi Alliance can interact with any other product of similar standing, regardless of the manufacturer.

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