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CNCTC Articles - Excellence in IT TRAINING

The Dawn of Wi-Fi

by: Vianca C. Villar | 12 Jan, 2010 07:52:06

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Amongst all the shops alongside your area’s busy streets you chose one with a sign that reads “Wi-Fi hotspot.” You brought your laptop with you, ordered your favorite cup of coffee, sank into one of the comfy chairs at the corner stretched and eased into your routine of sifting through your e-mails, updating and checking social networking profiles/sites. You tell yourself, “Thank goodness, for Wi-Fi!”
But, have you ever wondered how Wi-Fi came about? How it works? Let this article enlighten you on that subject.
Invention of Wi-Fi
1991, marked the year of Wi-Fi’s birth. It was originally created to support the cashier systems, pioneered by the NCR Corporation/AT&T (later Lucent & Agere Systems) in the Netherlands. On its first run the Wi-Fi system operated at a rate of 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps.
Vic Hayes, given the title, “father of Wi-Fi” and his team worked for the corporation and were engaged in designing the standards for Wi-Fi. But, eventually Hayes had to go along with his genius leaving the company highly penetrable by competition despite having invented their own set of remarkable products. As a result it suffered great losses and to lost its edge in the technology scene in late 2004.
Wi-Fi Process
A Wi-Fi’s setup consists of one or multiple Access Points (APs) and users. The AP sends out its SSID (Service Set Identifier) through containers termed as beacons. At 100 ms these beacons are being aired.
A beacon moves at a speed of 1Mbps and guarantees that every Wi-Fi user gets a minimum of this rate at which it can travel from one access point to another.
In the event that there are two AP’s available to the client for use, its settings (SSID) and the firmware can influence whether to connect to an AP and to which one as determined by signal strength (Signal-to-noise ratio). Therefore, Wi-Fi standards allow virtually unrestricted connection and roaming to its number of users.
Wi-Fi soon to be controlled by OS?
It is presumed that Wi-Fi standards are soon to be controlled by the Operating System (OS). To cite, Windows XP makes use of zero configuration enabling users to connect to any available network in an instant. Also, Microsoft's Soft MAC will take over the client’s built–in firmware. Same goes with wireless cards which will be affected by the Operating System in the coming years.
Wi-Fi Application vs. GSM
It is not likely that Wi-Fi can compete directly against cellular (GSM, UMTS or CDMA) given its constriction in spectrum, limited range, incomplete roaming and verification features. Although, Wi-Fi is best with VOIP ideal for small office/home office (SOHO) or corporate setting.
Why use Wi-Fi?
Why do most people go for Wi-Fi? Here are its advantages:
• regulatory approval not required since it uses unmonitored radio scale
• It does not require cables to run, favorable to outdoor areas, allows wireless LAN hosting and reduces networking costs.
• It is widely available and accessible to all users.
• It’s free, cost –effective.
• It supports roaming and provides mobility to its clients.
• It consists of numerous AP’s and network links to back different encryption levels and secure traffic from interception.
• It has a uniform standard allowing same clients to work in different parts of the world.

Wi-Fi indeed has come a long way in redefining the products of technology making information available and accessible to everyone.
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