What is WiFi?

Sean Jackson
August 10, 2020

Whether you are working, learning or gaming, the internet is the ultimate tool for the most current and accurate information on anything in the world. It has become one of the most critical components for success in our society, and yet many are not quite sure how to answer when asked, “Exactly what is WiFi?”

WiFi is your wireless internet connection. You use a modem to connect to the internet, while the router strengthens and broadcasts that signal to nearby devices so they can all join the same network and also share information. 

To find the best internet service provider for your family, you first need to understand what WiFi is and how it works.

What is WiFi and How Does it Work?

WiFi is a wireless networking technology that allows a device to wirelessly connect to the internet. Instead of using traditional wires and cables, WiFi uses a radio frequency signal to connect to an access point, such as a router. WiFi also uses specific protocols called IEEE 802.11 that allow communications to be sent back and forth.

WiFi depends on a specific frequency range that allows users to access a set number of channels. These channels disperse consumer demand, allowing multiple users to use the same frequency at the same time without busy signals or constant interruptions. The most common frequencies it uses to transmit information are either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, although other settings are available for more tailored use. 

While WiFi signals are capable of reaching up to 100 meters, buildings and other structures often cause the signal to reflect, making it closer to 10-35 meters. 

The WiFi network is a public network, meaning that anyone with a WiFi-enabled device can discover the network and connect to it if they can figure out your password. That leaves room for security issues, enabling hackers to access your network and steal your information if you do not have extra security protocols installed to protect you.

What Devices Use Wifi?

Today, WiFi is everywhere, and everyday life depends on it. 

These are some of the ways you can use WiFi at home and at work:

  • Computers

    • Connect your desktops and laptops to the internet via WiFi for easy browsing.

  • Smartphones

  • Using a WiFi network instead of cell phone data when you’re at home or out helps you save data and money.

  • Smart TVs

  • Many TVs today offer WiFi connectivity for better streaming.

  • Printers

  • Instead of using stubborn cables, you can use WiFi to print wireless from your computer or smartphone.

  • Appliances

  • Newer technology allows smart devices like your fridge, cooktop, air conditioner and oven to all be controlled with the tap of a button.

  • Vehicles

  • Even your car can use WiFi to allow access to apps, improved search and better navigation features.

How Do You Get WiFi?

Setting up WiFi in your home or office is easy. You will need both a modem and wireless router, or you can opt for the all-in-one model called a wireless gateway that combines the two. WiFi-capable devices each require their own setup, which usually involves finding the internet settings and connecting to the network. 

A local cable, satellite or fiber-optic internet service provider will not only provide you with internet access, but they will also provide everything you need to connect, like your modem, router or wireless gateway.

What Companies Offer WiFi?

There are many internet service providers today who offer access to the internet, but you need to be careful that you choose a reliable and affordable company that will provide you with high speeds and low fees.

These are the five best internet providers for WiFi. 

AT&T

AT&T offers affordable DSL and fiber-optic internet plans. WiFi hotspot access is included, but your data is capped at 1 TB for most plans. Still, they continually win awards for customer satisfaction and offer some of the fastest services with up to 1,000 Mbps in some areas. 

Verizon

Verizon is excellent for gamers and heavy streamers because it has speeds of up to 940 Mbps and it consistently delivers faster-than-advertised speeds. Service is only limited to Washington, D.C. and nine states, but if you are within their coverage area, their fiber-optic internet can’t be beat.

Spectrum

Spectrum offers decent speeds, but their Triple Play bundles are really where the company shines. Combining TV, phone and internet service, there’s also a great contract buyout option. You also get free installation and monthly DVR rental.

Xfinity

Xfinity is hands-down the fastest WiFi provider in the U.S. with speeds reaching up to 2,000 Mbps or 2 Gbps. You can also bundle cable and phone service, but it will cost you. Xfinity is one company that charges many extra fees that quickly add up.

Frontier

Frontier is an excellent option if you are looking for basic, cheap internet. With plans starting at under $40/mo., you can lock in certain plan pricing with its Price for Life guarantee, or you can opt for contract-free service. It is also available in 29 states for more widespread coverage than other companies.

How Do You Set Up WiFi?

You can set up your WiFi network in 10 easy steps.

  • Step 1: Determine placement

  • When deciding where to put your router, it is best to choose a central area that is open and free of any obstructions to your service. Walls, windows and appliances can all serve to interrupt your WiFi signal and slow down your internet speeds.

  • Step 2: Prepare your devices

  • Make sure the modem and router are powered off, and you have your smartphone or computer ready to connect to an internet connection.

  • Step 3: Connect your router

  • Use the Ethernet cable to connect your router to the modem by plugging into the router’s WAN port.

  • Step 4: Connect your computer to the router

  • You will need a second Ethernet cable for this step. Plug one end of the Ethernet cable into the router LAN port and the other end into your laptop’s Ethernet port.

  • Step 5: Turn on the power

  • Once everything is connected, power on your devices to continue the setup process.

  • Step 6: Follow your router’s web management page

  • Use your computer to visit your router’s web administration page. Your manual should give you both the web address and the log-in credentials. You will need to change your user name and password when you first log in.

  • Step 7: Update wireless security systems

  • Open the wireless security settings for your router’s administration web page. Choose the correct encryption option and set a passphrase using a minimum of eight characters.

  • Step 8: Name your wireless network

  • You also should name your wireless network, so it is easier to find on your other devices. Save your changes.

  • Step 9: Connect your computer to the wireless adapter

  • Next, you want to set up your wireless adapter on your computer. Some computers have wireless adapters built-in, or you may have to manually connect. Unplug your computer from the router and use either a USB cord or PC card to connect the wireless adapter to your computer.

  • Step 10: Connect to your network

  • Your computer and devices should now show your new wireless network. All you have to do is connect, and you’re ready to go!

What is WiFi 6?

WiFi 6 is an upgraded version of our current WiFi. This new version, also known as 802.11ax, improves data coding between routers and the devices connected to these routers. 

To use this new generation of WiFi, you’ll need a router that has WiFi 6 capabilities. When you obtain one, it has the ability to send out more information with each signal. Because of their information-handling capabilities, WiFi 6 routers will be able to handle more tasks simultaneously while consuming less energy. 

The benefits of WiFi 6 include:

  • Faster connection speeds: Because WiFi 6 routers run more efficiently, the consensus is you could have increased connection speeds of up to 40%. 
  • Better overall performance: With improved efficiency, WiFi 6 connections will be able to process information quicker with fewer chances of latency occurring. Latency is when there’s a delay in transmitting data – you’re streaming Netflix and the service pauses as you watch it. 
  • Lower battery consumption by devices: Since they’re able to transmit and receive data more efficiently from the router, it requires less energy. 

FAQs

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about WiFi.


What is a WiFi router?

A wireless router is what you use to connect to internet service. Once you sign up with a new internet service provider, you will receive a wireless router that will serve as your personal gateway to the internet.


What is a WiFi hotspot?

A WiFi hotspot is a mobile wireless network that you can connect to from anywhere without needing any cords or cables. It is a common perk with some internet service providers, with companies like Verizon and AT&T offering access to thousands of mobile hotspots nationwide.


What is a good WiFi speed?

A good WiFi speed depends on your usage. You will need higher speeds of 100 Mbps or more if you have many devices in your home or have heavy usage for things like gaming, streaming and downloading. If you use the internet for simple browsing and light streaming, lower speeds could be sufficient.

To Sum It Up

WiFi has an enormous impact on our day-to-day life, helping us work and live better. With WiFi technology, you no longer have to be tethered to cables and cords every time you want to use the internet. Now with the power of WiFi, you have the world at your fingertips for easy, stress-free internet access.