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Wireless local area network / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wi-Fi (/ˈwf/)[1][lower-alpha 1] is a family of wireless network protocols based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital devices to exchange data by radio waves. These are the most widely used computer networks in the world, used globally in home and small office networks to link desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones, smart TVs, printers, and smart speakers together and to a wireless router to connect them to the Internet, and in wireless access points in public places like coffee shops, hotels, libraries, and airports to provide visitors with Internet connectivity for their mobile devices.

Quick facts: Introduced, Compatible hardware...
Introduced21 September 1997; 25 years ago (1997-09-21)
Compatible hardwarePersonal computers, gaming consoles, Smart devices, televisions, printers, smartphones, security cameras

Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which restricts the use of the term "Wi-Fi Certified" to products that successfully complete interoperability certification testing.[3][4][5] As of 2017, the Wi-Fi Alliance consisted of more than 800 companies from around the world.[6] As of 2019, over 3.05 billion Wi-Fi-enabled devices are shipped globally each year.[7]

Wi-Fi uses multiple parts of the IEEE 802 protocol family and is designed to work seamlessly with its wired sibling, Ethernet. Compatible devices can network through wireless access points with each other as well as with wired devices and the Internet. Different versions of Wi-Fi are specified by various IEEE 802.11 protocol standards, with different radio technologies determining radio bands, maximum ranges, and speeds that may be achieved. Wi-Fi most commonly uses the 2.4 gigahertz (120 mm) UHF and 5 gigahertz (60 mm) SHF radio bands; these bands are subdivided into multiple channels. Channels can be shared between networks, but, within range, only one transmitter can transmit on a channel at a time.

A newly installed home Wi-Fi network in April 2022

Wi-Fi's radio bands have relatively high absorption and work best for line-of-sight use. Many common obstructions such as walls, pillars, home appliances, etc. may greatly reduce range, but this also helps minimize interference between different networks in crowded environments. An access point range of about 20 m (66 ft) indoors, while some access points claim up to a 150 m (490 ft) range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can be as small as a single room with walls that block radio waves or as large as many square kilometres using many overlapping access points with roaming permitted between them. Over time, the speed and spectral efficiency of Wi-Fi have increased. As of 2019, some versions of Wi-Fi, running on suitable hardware at close range, can achieve speeds of 9.6 Gbit/s (gigabit per second).[8]