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How does Wireless Internet Work?

written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 8/30/2010

Have you ever wondered how devices magically connect to the Internet? Here is how it all works.

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    Wireless Internet provides a convenient way to access the Internet without being physically connected by wires, but how a wireless technology (4G, Wi-Fi and Satellite) works depends on the technology that is being used. The service that is used depends on the availability of the service and the operating range of the technology.

    In their simplest form wireless networks use antennas to transmit data back and forth between compatible devices and the rest of the network. Before any device is allowed to connect to the network it is usually authenticated to verify that it has the right to access the network. Wireless networks use portions of the electromagnet spectrum to communication (similar to radio or broadcast TV) but each technology operates at different frequencies. For example, Wi-Fi uses 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, while GSM cell phones often use 800mhz, 900mhz etc. Here are some wireless Internet standards and how they work.

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    Types of Wireless Internet Technologies

    How does wireless Internet work – Laptops and computer 4G – This technology uses cell phone towers as Internet infrastructure. A USB or mobile hotspot device such as the Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot from Sierra Wireless is required to access the Internet. The biggest advantage that 4G has over other wireless technologies is that it can provide high speed broadband access at great distances, with some users of 4G services claiming that the service is faster than DSL.

    Wi-Fi – This form of wireless technology is very common. Nearly every laptop and some desktop has the capability to access the service right out of the box. Wi-Fi comes in 802.11a/b/g/n with each variation determining what speeds are possible. The service uses routers to create wireless hotspots and transmit wireless signals to other Wi-Fi compatible devices within a range of approximately 300 feet. While the range of Wi-Fi is limited to a few hundred feet, additional routers can be placed at the edge of the network to extend coverage to a much larger area.

    Satellite – This service is an option for those who are in remote locations that aren’t served by other broadband Internet connections. Satellite Internet uses the satellites that are orbiting our planet to connect a remote location to the Internet via a satellite dish on the user’s property.

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    Conclusion

    While the underlying technology and protocols that make wireless Internet possible are complex, users have no indication of the level of complexity, as wireless technologies are designed to connect seamlessly.

    While all technologies have operating limits, the fact that these technologies need no wires to work makes it possible to get Internet from virtually any location on the planet. There is not doubt that wireless is the future of the Internet.

    Image Credits:

    How does wireless Internet work – Laptops and computer" gpphotouk