May 25, 2004               Part 1: Why WiFi?                                                                       

Easy answer, CONVENIENCE! With WiFi you are free of the clutter of cables!

WiFi, the acronym for Wireless Fidelity, has arrived in many flavors and choices: 802.11a (“A”), 802.11b (“B”), 802.11g (“G”), Bluetooth, and “power-line modem”. What is the best choice on the market today?

There are some great deals on WiFi in the newspaper ads each week. In terms of pricing, you can purchase some versions for free, after rebates of course with numerous forms and rebate requirements. But, getting it for free may cause you many headaches. “B” is fairly slow and not secure. “A” is faster and also not secure. With both “A” and “B” choices it is easy for a hacker to tap into someone’s network and get free access to the Internet. A more prevalent problem is that your network is exposed to external users that might tap in this way.

“G” has some really good features and is compatible with “B”. Beware, when delivered and first installed, NO security is setup and so this WiFi setup also exposes your network.

What about range? “A” has the shortest range operating between 25 and 75 feet from the router or access point. Both “B” and “G” work well between 100 and 150 feet. The construction in the walls between the router and the laptop computer can make a significant difference in the range.

And how about public access? “B” is very popular at hotspots. Some Starbucks, Borders Bookstores and even the Laguna Hills Mall have WiFi services available. T-mobile is the host for Internet access at Starbucks and their website gives full instructions on how to connect to their network  (

Bluetooth is really not for high speed internet connections. It is intended to replace cables inexpensively on your keyboard, mouse and other devices local to your computer. It has a limited range of about 10 meters.

“Power-Line modem” devices are also not intended for high speed Internet usage. They are better suited for low speed control, such as the X10 controls for home lighting and power control.

In summary, using a “G” network with WPA (WiFi protected access) enabled is the best choice today for protecting your personal/business network and “B” is the network most available publicly. Fortunately “G” and “B” are supported together in many of the adapters being sold today.

Our next article, “How WiFi”, will discuss the setup options for this more secure technology.

Need Help?
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Have a great day,
Bill Perry

Copyright (c) 2004, PerTel Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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