-This page is being edited by Michael Kim-


A wireless network communicates through radiowaves like that of televisions and cellphones and works much like a two way radio.
First, the computer's wireless adapter converts the information into radio signals. The wireless router nearby receives this data and translates it back. It then sends the information to the internet using a coaxial cable or 'Ethernet'. This process also works in reverse for downloads.


Similarly to radios, wireless routers can transmit and receive radio signals and convert them to binary (1s and 0s). However, WiFi radios are noticably different from radio signals in that they transmit their data at frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5GHz which is considerably higher than the frequencies used by common mobile phones, walkie talkies and televisions. This higher frequency allows more data to be transmitted through the signal.

WiFi radios can transmit on any of three frequency bands. Or, they can "frequency hop" rapidly between the different bands. Frequency hopping helps reduce interference and lets multiple devices use the same wireless connection simultaneously.

As long as they all have wireless adapters, several devices can use one router to connect to the Internet. This connection is convenient and virtually invisible, and it's fairly reliable. If the router fails or if too many people try to use high-bandwidth applications at the same time, however, users can experience interference or lose their connections.

Cell phone and handheld computer users are also accessing the internet through wireless cellphone networks. Such wide area wireless access is much slower than the high-capacity, dedicated broadband access or dial-ups and these small handheld devices are inconvenient in terms of their small screens, low quality media and lack of capability in comparisson to the larger, stationary systems. But with wide area wireless, users can access the Internet while mobile and access the internet whereas otherwise impossible. Telephone companies are currently developing 3G (“third generation") cellular networks that will provide wide area Internet access at almost DSL-like speeds. Vodafone's new 'Vodem' demonstrates this.