The Future of Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is a disruptive technology that came unexpectedly and has
been growing by leaps and bounds, mainly because it is inexpensive and fills a
need. Originally, Wi-Fi was just a hack so that people could connect a notebook
to a network via wireless using a spectrum that didn't have to be paid for. No
one expected it to grow so fast, and to become used so widely. The fact that it
has spread like wildfire has caused many kinds of technology companies, from
wireless cell phone providers to network hardware manufacturers, to rethink
For sure, some telecommunications executives must be turning to
each other and saying, "Hey, why should we build expensive proprietary networks
when it is being done cheaply and on the fly using Wi-Fi?"
The growth of Wi-Fi has spawned all kinds of fun and useful
developments and gizmos. For some examples, turn to Chapter 7, "Playing with Wi-Fi Gadgets."
As Wi-Fi grows up, it is getting better, more secure, and
faster. Clearly, vendors and the Wi-Fi Alliance have listened to the users' need
for security (as represented by the 802.11i standard) and interoperability. If
you decide to use one of the newer flavors of Wi-Fi, you'll probably find that
it will interoperate well with older versions.
Here are the key points to remember from this chapter:
All radio transmissions operate on a spectrum band.
Wi-Fi uses the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
The 802.11b standard is the predominate flavor of Wi-Fi
The 802.11a and 802.11g standards are up-and-coming faster
versions of Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi provides data throughput that is fine for most uses.
802.11b will work with 802.11g and vice versa. 802.11a will
only work with other 802.11a devices.