It’s all around us, invisible but virtually omnipresent. We can neither touch it nor feel it but it influences our lives on a daily basis. It even allows us to connect to something greater than ourselves.
I’m talking about Wi-Fi, the network technology that allows our mobile devices to connect to the Internet wirelessly. It’s through the Wi-Fi network that many homes and businesses can interface their phones, computers and smart devices with the World Wide Web without the need for wired connections.
How Does Wi-Fi work?
Similarly to mobile phones, Wi-Fi uses radio waves to create a localized network, known as a hotspot, that allows Wi-Fi capable devices in the vicinity of the transmitter to connect to the internet and each other. Each device uses a wireless chip, or adapter, that converts data into radio signals. These signals are then transferred from the device to a router. The router decodes the radio signals and transmits them to an ISP, or Internet Service Provider, through a wired or satellite connection, who in turn directs them to wherever they’re going in the Internet.
Conversely, all the information received from the Internet also passes through the router, where it gets coded into radio waves that mobile devices will receive and use.
The Benefits of a Home and Business Wi-Fi Network
With modern advancements in Wi-Fi technology such as the high-speed 802.11a/g framework, wireless networks have become exceedingly common in most homes and businesses. In the days before Wi-Fi it was necessary to run lengths of Ethernet cables throughout a home or office in order to connect all the computers to the Internet.
Wi-Fi allows you to cut down on the need for wiring and instead gives all your devices Internet access no matter where in your house or office you are. All that is needed is a router, a modem box and a subscription to an ISP such as Optimum.com. With a Wi-Fi network in place, you can enjoy HD streaming on your smart TV in the living room and high-speed gaming on your video game console in the den, all while printing documents from your Wi-Fi printer using a laptop a few rooms away. No need to be jumping between rooms or running bulky wiring throughout the house.
How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?
When you sign up for home Internet you’ll have different speed, or bandwidth, options from which to choose from. Your bandwidth needs will vary depending on a few factors, such as how many devices you’ll have on your Wi-Fi network, what you use the internet for and how much Netflix you’ll watch.
Here are some download speed guidelines for your daily Internet use:
• Email, Web Browsing & Home Office Use: 1-5 Mbps / device
• Streaming HD content: 15-25 Mbps / device
• Streaming 4K content and online gaming: 40-100 Mbps / device
• Streaming 4K, playing games and large downloads: 200+ Mbps minimum / device
As you can see, bandwidth usage can add up fast depending on how many people and devices are sharing a Wi-Fi network. While its hard to know how much you’ll need for sure until you try a service, the FCC considers anything 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds “broadband”. This base level should be enough for a family of three who aren’t heavy Internet users.
How to Keep Your Home Wi-Fi Safe
In the same way it’s important you lock your front door so no unwanted guests come into your house, it’s equally important that you secure your home or business Wi-Fi with a strong password to prevent would-be hackers from getting access to your Internet or your private files. While many people are simply looking for open Wi-Fi networks to mooch free Internet from, some cybercriminals know that an unsecured Wi-Fi is a direct path to the documents stored on the computers on that network.
So what can you do to stay safe? Always make sure your Wi-Fi network is protected with a strong password made up of random upper- and lower-case characters and symbols. Using a strong password is the best way to deter would-be hackers from accessing your private Wi-Fi network.
Another measure you can adopt is to use a VPN, or Virtual Private Network to encrypt all the information flowing through your Wi-Fi network. This way, even if you are hacked, the cyber-attacker can’t actually see or steal any of your private information.
As you can see, Wi-Fi is as important to a home or office as telephone or TV services. In fact, you can often save money by bundling them all together when you sign up with an ISP, ensuring you get the best deal for your money.