Wireless refers to the transmission of data between points without cables, or any physical connection. More commonly, this refers to cellphone transmissions and Wi-Fi networks used to connect laptop computers to the Internet.
Wireless is not the same as the term cordless, which refers to items that are not connected to a power source, but run on batteries and do not typically transmit any data.
SEE ALSO: Wireless Internet
When Is Wi-Fi Necessary?
Wireless communication is needed when it is physically impossible to connect transmission and reception points, is financially prohibitive or requires mobility of the devices.
Compared to wired communications, the downside is an increased risk of interference or a bad signal. Because the signal is traveling through the air, it can be interrupted due to inclement weather, by not being strong enough, location in a poor reception spot or interference from other signals broadcast in the area.
How Does It Work?
Wireless devices transmit and receive over the airwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission controls who uses the frequencies on the spectrum, and for what purpose, in order to avoid interference issues.
They have allocated frequency bands between 9 kHz and 275 GHz for specific use. Only certain frequencies are used for phone use, while others are used for radio astronomy. Otherwise there is overlap and interference, causing too many potential problems between users and services.
Most Common Uses
The uses of wireless communications are vast. Without a wire to chain objects together, you can use wireless technology to connect devices over small distances; like bluetooth for your cellphone earpiece, or long distances of several miles between satellites in space, and your TV set.
It has continued to gain popularity for personal and business use, due to the rapid increases in speed, greater signal availability and ease of use. Heres a short list of a just a few common applications:
- Connect to the Internet or local network with a laptop using Wi-Fi
- Connect a computer to other devices like a printer, keyboard or mouse
- Cell phones
- Remote control for the TV, DVD player and sound system
- Global Positioning System (GPS)
- Satellite TV and Internet
- FM and AM radio
When most people use the term wireless today they are referring to Wi-Fi, which is wireless networking technology that connects computers and cellphones to the Internet. The Wi-Fi Alliance is a group of companies formed in 1999 to promote wireless local area networking (Wi-Fi) around the 2.4 GHz frequency band, based on the protocols and standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE). Wi-Fi and wireless are frequently used interchangeably.