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About WiFi


History

Wi-Fi uses both single carrier direct-sequence spread spectrum radio technology (part of the larger family of spread spectrum systems) and multi-carrier OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) radio technology. The regulations for unlicensed spread spectrum enabled the development of Wi-Fi, its onetime competitor HomeRF, Bluetooth, and many other products such as some types of cordless telephones.

Unlicensed spread spectrum was first made available in the US by the Federal Communications Commission in 1985 and these FCC regulations were later copied with some changes in many other countries enabling use of this technology in all major countries. The FCC action was proposed by Michael Marcus of the FCC staff in 1980 and the subsequent regulatory action took 5 more years. It was part of a broader proposal to allow civil use of spread spectrum technology and was opposed at the time by main stream equipment manufacturers and many radio system operators.

The precursor to Wi-Fi was invented in 1991 by NCR Corporation/AT&T (later Lucent & Agere Systems) in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. It was initially intended for cashier systems; the first wireless products were brought on the market under the name WaveLAN with speeds of 1 Mbit/s to 2 Mbit/s. Vic Hayes, who held the chair of IEEE 802.11 for 10 years and has been named the 'father of Wi-Fi,' was involved in designing standards such as IEEE 802.11b, and 802.11a.

The original patents behind 802.11 Wi-Fi technology, filed in 1996, are held by the CSIRO, an Australian research body. The patents have been the subject of protracted and ongoing legal battles between the CSIRO and major IT corporations over the non-payment of royalties. In 2009 the CSIRO reached a settlement with 14 companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Dell, Toshiba, ASUS, Microsoft and Nintendo, on the condition that the CSIRO did not broadcast the resolution.




Uses

A Wi-Fi enabled device such as a PC, game console, mobile phone, MP3 player or PDA can connect to the Internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the Internet. The coverage of one or more interconnected access points - called a hotspot - can comprise an area as small as a single room with wireless-opaque walls or as large as many square miles covered by overlapping access points. Wi-Fi technology has served to set up mesh networks, for example, in London. Both architectures can operate in community networks.

In addition to restricted use in homes and offices, Wi-Fi can make access publicly available at Wi-Fi hotspots provided either free of charge or to subscribers to various providers. Organizations and businesses such as airports, hotels and restaurants often provide free hotspots to attract or assist clients. Enthusiasts or authorities who wish to provide services or even to promote business in a given area sometimes provide free Wi-Fi access. There are already[update] more than 300 metropolitan-wide Wi-Fi (Muni-Fi) projects in progress. There were 879 Wi-Fi based Wireless Internet service providers in the Czech Republic as of May 2008.

Wi-Fi also allows connectivity in peer-to-peer (wireless ad-hoc network) mode, which enables devices to connect directly with each other. This connectivity mode can prove useful in consumer electronics and gaming applications.

When wireless networking technology first entered the market many problems ensued for consumers who could not rely on products from different vendors working together. The Wi-Fi Alliance began as a community to solve this issue - aiming to address the needs of the end-user and to allow the technology to mature. The Alliance created the branding Wi-Fi CERTIFIED to reassure consumers that products will interoperate with other products displaying the same branding.

Many consumer devices use Wi-Fi. Amongst others, personal computers can network to each other and connect to the Internet, mobile computers can connect to the Internet from any Wi-Fi hotspot, and digital cameras can transfer images wirelessly.




City wide Wi-Fi

In the early 2000s, many cities around the world announced plans for a city wide Wi-Fi network. This proved to be much more difficult than their promoters initially envisioned with the result that most of these projects were either canceled or placed on indefinite hold. A few were successful, for example in 2005, Sunnyvale, California became the first city in the United States to offer city wide free Wi-Fi.




Wi-Fi Alliance

The Alliance promotes standards with the aim of improving the interoperability of wireless local area network products based on the IEEE 802.11 standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a consortium of separate and independent companies, agrees on a set of common interoperable products based on the family of IEEE 802.11 standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies products via a set of defined test-procedures to establish interoperability. Those manufacturers with membership of Wi-Fi Alliance and whose products pass these interoperability tests can mark their products and product packaging with the Wi-Fi logo.






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