Wireless networks are easy to set up and inexpensive. They're also unobtrusive -- unless you're on the lookout for a place to use your laptop, you may not even notice when you're in a hotspot. But as you’ll find out in this quiz, there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye.
Wi-Fi is also referred to as 802.11 networking. No matter what you call it, it's pretty flexible as far as Internet connections go: It requires no wires.
Like cell phones, TVs and radios, a wireless network uses radio waves to transmit signals. Communication across wireless networks is pretty comparable to two-way radio communication.
Your computer, smartphone and other gadgets communicate with the wireless router using radio signals.
Wi-Fi radios transmit signals at 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. These high frequencies allow the signal to carry more data.
802.11c isn't used as a networking standard -- but 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n are used.
The slowest and least expensive networking standard is 802.11b. It transmits in the 2.4 GHz frequency band of the radio spectrum and carries up to 11 megabits of data per second.
All three of these standards use OFDM, a coding technique that splits signals into sub-signals before they reach a receiver to reduce interference, but 802.11a was the first.
The wireless standard used for WPANs is 802.15 -- it's also commonly used for Bluetooth technology.
Wireless adapters plug into USB ports and PC card slots. Most new laptops have built-in wireless adapters. If you'll be accessing a wireless network with your desktop, you can insert an adapter into the PCI slot inside the computer's case.
Routers use channel 6 by default -- if you live in an apartment complex and your neighbors are using this same channel, you can sometimes get some interference. In addition to changing the channel, other settings you may wish to change include the name of your network and your router's security options.