Understanding Wi-Fi and its Technology
Most of us are familiar with the terms Wi-Fi and mobile data. About 86% of the world’s population uses smartphones, frequently accessing the internet through these methods. While users may not know the differences between Wi-Fi and mobile data besides cost and service providers, they still rely on them regularly. If you’re curious about how each method of internet provision works, read on. Contrary to popular belief, Wi-Fi does not stand for wireless fidelity; it refers to IEEE 802.11x, a standard for communication over a wireless local area network (LAN). Let’s explore how Wi-Fi works and its underlying technology.
Wi-Fi Technology and Data Transmission
Wi-Fi operates by transmitting data using radio waves at frequencies of 2.4 gigahertz or 5 gigahertz. Higher frequencies enable greater data transmission, while the slower internet speeds of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi contribute to its obsolescence. A computer’s Wi-Fi adapter converts data into radio wave signals, which then travel to a Wi-Fi router. The router establishes a physical connection to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) using either ethernet or fiber optic cables. This connection facilitates data transmission to the internet and enables the reverse process. The ISP sends internet data back to the router, which transmits it to the user’s computer via radio waves. It’s important to note that Wi-Fi’s coverage is limited to a smaller geographic region due to the relatively low power of the generated radio waves, restricting their travel distance.
Mobile Data Connectivity and Usage
In contrast, cellular devices widely use mobile data worldwide, with telecommunications providers such as Safaricom in Kenya facilitating internet access. Mobile data operates by connecting a mobile device to a cellular tower within a vast network, allowing users to access the internet. Similar to Wi-Fi, cell towers employ radio waves as signals, but with significantly more power to cover larger areas. This convenience enables mobile data usage from any location with a cell phone signal. However, the downside is that mobile data plans often involve specific charges for transmitted data volume unlike Wi-Fi where a fixed monthly fee is common.