What is the operation of wireless networks?
What is the operation of wireless networks?
Wireless networks, as opposed to wired networks, transmit data between computers by using radio waves instead of wires. That's the short and sweet version. If you're interested in learning more about what's going on, this article will provide you with all of the information you need.
Ones and zeros are the only numbers.
If you know anything about computers, you are probably aware that they transmit data digitally, using binary: ones and zeros. Due to the fact that the computer can transmit ones and zeros in the form of different types of beeps, this method of communication translates extremely well to radio waves. As a result of the speed of these beeps, they are beyond the range of human hearing - radio waves that are too fast for you to hear are, in fact, all around you at all times. However, this does not prevent a computer from making use of them.
Morse Code is a type of code.
The way it works is very similar to the way Morse code works. It is likely that you are already aware that Morse code is a method of representing the alphabet so that it can be transmitted over radio waves using a dot (short beep) and a dash (long dash). It was used manually for many years before becoming a valuable tool for transmitting information from one location to another with the invention of the telegraph. However, for the purposes of this example, it is important to note that it is a binary system, similar to the ones and zeros used by computers.
You could think of wireless networking as being similar to Morse code for computers, if that makes sense. As soon as you plug in a radio receiver and transmitter that work together, the computer is able to send out the computer's equivalent of dots and dashes (known as bits in computer jargon) in order to transfer your data from one location to another.
It's All About the Frequency.
You might wonder, on the other hand, how the computer could possibly transmit enough bits to send and receive data at the speeds that it does at such a high rate. Because, after all, there has to be a limit to how much information can be transmitted in a second before it becomes useless nonsense, right? Yes, this is true, but the beauty of wireless networking is that it avoids this issue entirely.
For starters, wireless transmissions are sent at extremely high frequencies, allowing for greater amounts of data to be transmitted per second. The majority of wireless connections operate at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (2.4 billion cycles per second), which is the same frequency used by mobile phones and microwave ovens, among other things. For those who aren't familiar with the concept, a high frequency means that the wavelength must be extremely short, which is why wireless networking only works over a relatively small area.
A technique known as "frequency hopping" is also used by wireless networks to increase the range of their signals. They make use of dozens of frequencies within the range they have been given, switching between them on a regular basis. It is because of this that wireless networks are more resistant to interference from other radio signals than if all of their signals were transmitted on a single frequency.
Access Points are a type of network connection.
When it comes to all of the computers on a network that are sharing Internet access, the final step is to connect them all together. This is accomplished through the use of a specialized piece of wireless equipment known as an access point. The cost of access points is higher than the cost of wireless cards for a single computer because they contain radios that are capable of communicating with up to 100 computers at the same time and sharing access to the Internet among those computers. Dedicated access points, on the other hand, are only really necessary for larger networks. If you only have a few computers, it is possible to use one of them as the access point, or you could simply purchase a wireless router. Dedicated access points are only really necessary for larger networks, however.
They are able to communicate with one another.
So that's all fine and dandy, but how does wireless equipment manufactured by completely different companies manage to communicate with one another when everything is so complicated? Well, the answer is that there are standards that all wireless devices must adhere to in order to function. These standards, which are technically referred to as the 802.11 standards, are established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Wireless networking has become so simple and inexpensive to use today because of the efforts of people who have adhered to industry standards.
You don't have to be concerned.
If all of this talk of frequencies is making you a little nervous, don't be - wireless networking hardware and software takes care of everything automatically, so you don't have to do anything. Please do not imagine that you will be required to tell one wireless device what frequency another device is operating on. This is simply not going to happen, believe me. Although wireless networking has complicated workings, it is far easier to use than you might expect given its complexity.