How Does Wi-Fi Work?


Quick Answer

Wi-Fi works by using radio signals to communicate between devices. Devices use radio waves in the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz range to connect to one another and network together. Computers and other devices must be equipped with a wireless network interface controller to connect to other devices. Once a connection is established, devices transmit carrier waves to deliver packets of data across the communication channel that has been established.

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Full Answer

Access points, also known as hotspots, are centralized devices that broadcast the Wi-Fi radio signals out to potential clients such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. These devices provide a way for any connected devices to communicate through software, as well as connect to the Internet if the device has access to it.

Radio signals from Wi-Fi devices can reach up to 150 feet, with devices using the Wireless-N standards reaching up to 300 feet or more outdoors. Smartphones can also broadcast a portable Wi-Fi signal that allows client devices to connect to the Internet through the cellular phone's data network, depending on the carrier.

Wi-Fi is a synonym for WLAN, or wireless local area network, and is trademarked by the Wi-Fi Alliance trade association. It is also used to describe any device that uses the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard.

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