Wifi, or more correctly Wi-Fi™, is a wireless radio signalling protocol that defines a way for data – typically ethernet data packets – to be transmitted wirelessly between devices.
We tend to think of Wi-Fi primarily as a means for connecting a computer with a Wi-Fi adapter to a network by means of a Wi-Fi access point, often included as part of a wireless router, connected to the internet.
Wi-Fi refers to specific standards, typically a variation of 802.11 a, b, g, or n.
Most consumer-grade Wi-Fi equipment has a range of a few hundred feet, and thus Wi-Fi is considered a short-distance signalling protocol.
|Introduced||21 September 1998|
|Compatible hardware||Personal computers, gaming consoles, Smart devices, televisions, printers, smartphones|
Wi-Fi (//) is a family of wireless network protocols, based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital devices to exchange data by radio waves. These are the most widely used computer networks in the world, used globally in home and small office networks to link desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones, smart TVs, printers, and smart speakers together and to a wireless router to connect them to the Internet, and in wireless access points in public places like coffee shops, hotels, libraries and airports to provide the public Internet access for mobile devices.
Wi‑Fi is a trademark of the non-profit Wi-Fi Alliance, which restricts the use of the term Wi-Fi Certified to products that successfully complete interoperability certification testing. As of 2017[update], the Wi-Fi Alliance consisted of more than 800 companies from around the world. As of 2019[update], over 3.05 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices are shipped globally each year.
Wi-Fi uses multiple parts of the IEEE 802 protocol family and is designed to interwork seamlessly with its wired sibling Ethernet. Compatible devices can network through wireless access points to each other as well as to wired devices and the Internet. The different versions of Wi-Fi are specified by various IEEE 802.11 protocol standards, with the different radio technologies determining radio bands, and the maximum ranges, and speeds that may be achieved. Wi-Fi most commonly uses the 2.4 gigahertz (120 mm) UHF and 5 gigahertz (60 mm) SHF radio bands; these bands are subdivided into multiple channels. Channels can be shared between networks but only one transmitter can locally transmit on a channel at any moment in time.
Wi-Fi's wavebands have relatively high absorption and work best for line-of-sight use. Many common obstructions such as walls, pillars, home appliances, etc. may greatly reduce range, but this also helps minimize interference between different networks in crowded environments. An access point (or hotspot) often has a range of about 20 metres (66 feet) indoors while some modern access points claim up to a 150-metre (490-foot) range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can be as small as a single room with walls that block radio waves, or as large as many square kilometres (miles) using many overlapping access points with roaming permitted between them. Over time the speed and spectral efficiency of Wi-Fi have increased. As of 2019, at close range, some versions of Wi-Fi, running on suitable hardware, can achieve speeds of over 1 Gbit/s (gigabit per second).