WiFi Networking: What It Is, How It Works, And What You Need to Know

Wireless networking or Wi-Fi, is quickly becoming the preferred method for connecting to the Internet or other computers because of its simplicity. Using WiFi, you can connect anywhere in your home, office, or even your local cafe without the need for wires or Internet connections.

How It Works

A simple way to understand wireless networking is to think about how walkie-talkies work. These small radios communicate by transmitting and receiving radio signals. When you talk into a walkie-talkie, your voice is picked up by a microphone, encoded onto a radio frequency and transmitted with the antenna to the other walkie-talkie which then converts that radio frequency back to your voice.

Where to Connect

Finding a Wi-Fi hookup (also called a hotspot) for your laptop is getting easier. Thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots are springing up across the country including coffee shops, hotels, and public areas.

Most of these establishments charge a fee for the access but with a little research, you won't have to pay a cent. For example, Shlotzsky’s sandwich shops and Apple retail stores provide access for free to attract customers.

Hotel chains like Best Western, Clarion, Comfort Inn and Omni hotels are also offering free Wi-Fi service to their guests. To find free hotspots in your area or an area you will be traveling to, go to ConnectedHotel (http://www.connectedhotel.com) or Wi-Fi FreeSpot (http://www.wififreespot.com). Wififreespot.com also lists libraries and public parks that offer free access. They are little bit harder to find but you may be delightfully surprised to find one in your area.

If you can't find free service, you can pay for the access. T-Mobile (http://www.t-mobile.com/hotspot/) has nearly 4,600 locations throughout the United States and has hotspots located in Starbucks coffeehouses, Borders Books & Music stores, airports and other areas.

Security Problems with Wi-Fi Hotspots

Internet users beware! Wi-Fi access is not as secure as your Internet connection at home or at work. Most free public wireless networks turn off all security functions by default to make it easier to connect.

Never, ever send a credit card number or personal information of any sort over a wireless Internet connection. The guy in the next car could grab it as easy as your neighbor. If you set up a wireless network, remember that you must go the extra mile to ensure your network is secure. Police report a big business among criminals who use insecure networks to steal data like credit card numbers.

To safeguard your computer, turn off all file sharing and avoid sending sensitive e-mail or making online purchases.

Want to Go Wireless? We Can Help!

If you want to join the thousands of other computer users who have gone wireless, give us a call. We can install and configure the necessary hardware and software to get you connected in no time flat!