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TekSpek Networking


Date issued:
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Home networking lets you do great things that aren't possible with standalone PCs. Printers can be shared between PC, so there's no need to buy one for each machine; data can be swapped around virtually instantaneous; and every PC can go on the net via a single modem or ADSL connection. But, for many years, the price to be paid was having messy wires trailing all around the house, with associated hazards such as disentangling the dog from the mess or persuading the cat to stop chewing cables. Then along came the WiFi wireless networking standard, allowing computers and peripherals to communicate without all those cables.

How it works
WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is a trademark of The Wi-Fi Alliance – a not-for-profit organisation set up to certify and promote wireless kit conforming to the IEEE 802.11 standard. Knock off the IEEE and you're left with 802.11 - the other name used for WiFi. Whatever you call it, the driving principle is supposed to be simplicity. Users should be able to easily connect to one another via radio frequencies at ranges of 30m or more.

Currently, there are three basic variants of 802.11:

• 802.11b was the first mass-marketed standard. It operates at a frequency of 2.4GHz and, with a nominal maximum data rate (never achieved) of 11Mbit/sec, is slow compared to the standards that followed.

• 802.11a came next. This operates at 5GHz and theoretically offers a data transfer speed of 54Mbit/sec.

• 802.11g is the standard that most users have bought into over the last year or so. Like 802.11b, it operates at 2.4GHz and is not much more expensive yet offers the same theoretical speed as 802.11a – 54Mbit/sec.

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