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What are the Advantages of Wireless Internet?

Wi-Fi Sometimes spelled Wifi or WiFi) is a popular technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data wirelessly (using radio waves) over a computer network, including high-speed Internet connections. The Wi-Fi Alliance defines Wi-Fi as any "wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.11 standards". However, since most modern WLANs are based on these standards, the term "Wi-Fi" is used in general English as a synonym for "WLAN".

A device that can use Wi-Fi (such as a personal computer, video game console, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) can connect to a network resource such as the Internet via a wireless network access point. Such an access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 20 meters (65 feet) indoors and a greater range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can comprise an area as small as a single room with walls that block radio waves or as large as many square miles - this is achieved by using multiple overlapping access points.

"Wi-Fi" is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance and the brand name for products using the IEEE 802.11 family of standards. Only Wi-Fi products that complete Wi-Fi Alliance interoperability certification testing successfully may use the "Wi-Fi CERTIFIED" designation and trademark.

Wi-Fi has had a checkered security history. Its earliest encryption system, WEP, proved easy to break. Much higher quality protocols, WPA and WPA2, were added later. However, an optional feature added in 2007, called Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), has a flaw that allows a remote attacker to recover the router's WPA or WPA2 password in a few hours on most implementations. Some manufacturers have recommended turning off the WPS feature. The Wi-Fi Alliance has since updated its test plan and certification program to ensure all newly-certified devices resist brute-force AP PIN attacks.

History

802.11 technology has its origins in a 1985 ruling by the US Federal Communications Commission that released the ISM band for unlicensed use. In 1991 NCR Corporation with AT&T invented the precursor to 802.11 intended for use in cashier systems. The first wireless products were under the name WaveLAN.

Vic Hayes has been called the "father of Wi-Fi". He was involved in designing the initial standards within the IEEE.

A large number of patents by many companies are used in 802.11 standard. In 1992 and 1996, Australian organisation the CSIRO obtained patents for a method later used in Wi-Fi to "unsmear" the signal. In April 2009, 14 tech companies agreed to pay CSIRO $250 million for infringements on the CSIRO patents. This led to WiFi being attributed as an Australian invention, though this has been the subject of some controversy. The CSIRO won a further $220 million settlement for Wi-Fi patent infringements in 2012 with global firms in the United States required to pay the CSIRO licensing rights estimated to be worth an additional $1 billion in royalties.

In 1999, the Wi-Fi Alliance was formed as a trade association to hold the Wi-Fi trademark under which most products are sold.

The name Wi-Fi

The term Wi-Fi suggests Wireless Fidelity, resembling the long-established audio-equipment classification term Hi-Fi (used since 1950) or high fidelity (in use since the 1930s). Even the Wi-Fi Alliance itself has often used the phrase Wireless Fidelity in its press releases and documents; the term also appears in a white paper on Wi-Fi from ITAA.

The term Wi-Fi, first used commercially in August 1999, was coined by a brand-consulting firm called Interbrand Corporation that the Alliance had hired to determine a name that was "a little catchier than 'IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence'". Belanger also stated that Interbrand invented Wi-Fi as a play on words with Hi-Fi, and also created the Wi-Fi logo.

The Wi-Fi Alliance initially used an advertising slogan for Wi-Fi, "The Standard for Wireless Fidelity", but later removed the phrase from their marketing. Despite this, some documents from the Alliance dated 2003 and 2004 still contain the term Wireless Fidelity. There was no official statement related to the dropping of the term.

The yin-yang Wi-Fi logo indicates the certification of a product for interoperability.

Non-Wi-Fi technologies intended for fixed points such as Motorola Canopy are usually described as fixed wireless. Alternative wireless technologies include mobile phone standards such as 2G, 3G or 4G.

Wi-Fi certification

The IEEE does not test equipment for compliance with their standards. The non-profit Wi-Fi Alliance was formed in 1999 to fill this void & to establish and enforce standards for interoperability and backward compatibility, and to promote wireless local-area-network technology. As of 2010 the Wi-Fi Alliance consisted of more than 375 companies from around the world. The Wi-Fi Alliance enforces the use of the Wi-Fi brand to technologies based on the IEEE 802.11 standards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This includes wireless local area network (WLAN) connections, device to device connectivity (such as Wi-Fi Peer to Peer aka Wi-Fi Direct), Personal area network (PAN), local area network (LAN) and even some limited wide area network (WAN) connections. Manufacturers with membership in the Wi-Fi Alliance, whose products pass the certification process, gain the right to mark those products with the Wi-Fi logo.

Specifically, the certification process requires conformance to the IEEE 802.11 radio standards, the WPA and WPA2 security standards, and the EAP authentication standard. Certification may optionally include tests of IEEE 802.11 draft standards, interaction with cellular-phone technology in converged devices, and features relating to security set-up, multimedia, and power-saving.

Not every Wi-Fi device is submitted for certification. The lack of Wi-Fi certification does not necessarily imply a device is incompatible with other Wi-Fi devices. If it is compliant or partly compatible, the Wi-Fi Alliance may not object to its description as a Wi-Fi device though technically only certified devices are approved. Derivative terms, such as Super Wi-Fi, coined by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to describe proposed networking in the UHF TV band in the US, may or may not be sanctioned.

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