COMMUNICATING THE WI-FI WAY
The secret of Wi-Fi technology
Installing a Wi-Fi network
Installing a Wi-Fi network is quite similar to installing a classic cable network. The advantage of a Wi-Fi network are numerous.
Until now, using a traditional cable network to connect the Internet required each computer to be equipped with a networking card and connected to each other by cables. These cables are not very esthetic and reduce the mobility of equipment.
Using a Wi-Fi network based on IEEE 802.11b standards allows radio waves to take the p)lace of cables, making computers, laptops and PDAs mobile. Computers can be moved from one room to another while downloading or communicating via instant messenging.
However, Wi-Fi can be more expensive than traditional cable networks, costing practically 8 times more, especially if the network needs to be reinforced. Since Wi-Fi is a recent development, standardization can also be a problem. The advantages are numerous, but cables still haven' t said their last word.
Choosing the right equipment
Setting up a wireless connection at home is not very difficult. The most difficult thing is to select equipment that is adapted to your needs and budget.
* You have 2 computers.
To set up a connexion, simply equip each machine with a Wi-Fi adapter. If one of your computers is connected to a printer or has a high-speed connection to the Internet by cable, ADSL or satellite, you can easily share these connections with your other computer.
* You have more than 2 computers.
You will need to equip each machine with an adapter. You will also need a Wi-Fi router or an access point to dispatch the connection between each of your computers. This router will need to be configured as indicated according to your model.
Whether you have 2, 3 or 100 machines, it is essential to activate the encryption of your data to keep your connection safe from hackers.
When it comes to choosing the right equipment, you must know what you need, as more and more models are available on the market. To share an Internet connection, the 802.11b standard with 11 or 22 Megabytes should be amply sufficient. Howerer, if you need to put a veritable local networks for transferring large amounts of data, it is preferable to invest in the 802.11g standard, which allows transfer of 5 times more data. This standard remains compatible, and will not prevent you from connecting to the Internet through a hotel or cybercafé access point that uses firts generation Wi-Fi.
Technically speaking, what is Wi-Fi ?
Wi-Fi stand for " Wireless Fidelity ". It is the name of the IEEE 802.11 standard and its multiple versions, beginning with the most well-known, 802.11b. This communications protocol authorizes a debit of 11 Megabytes per second, with a range of 50 to 100 meters. In practice, howerver, performances vary according to the materials being used and their configuration. The real debit usually does not exceed 4 or 5 Mbps. Some manufacturers nox offer equipment promising a debit of 22 Mbps. Howerver, similar standards, such as the 801.11g, push this limit to the theoretical limit of 54 Mbps.
The future of Wi-Fi : the 802.11g standard
The term " Wi-Fi " is not a generic word but a technical certification, attributed to products by the Wi-Fi Alliance. This certification ensures that networking products from different manufacturers, such as a PC card or access point, will be able to work together.
Today, Wi-Fi Alliance certification covers a number of technologies, including the IEEE witeless technologies : 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.
The 802.11a standard has a maximum transfert rate of 54 Mbps, and the 802.11b, a maximum transfert rate of 11 Mbps. These standards work with two different frequencies : 2,4 Ghz for the 802.11b and 5 Ghz for the 802.11a.
The 802.11g standard reunites the best of both worlds using the 802.11b frequency with the transfert rate of the 802.11a standard, 54 Mbps.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has put in place a certification program, " Wi-Fi " certified 802.11g, for products operating with 802.11g standards and the primary manufacturers are already working on updating their already existing products.
Primary Wi-Fi equipment
Some Router models serve not only as wireless access points, but also as ADSL and cable modems, and as Firewall and Ethernet Hubs for hooking up the nearest computers. Other models may also have printer ports. If your Router is not equipped with thes functions, connect it directly to your high-speed modem.
* USB ADAPTERS
USB wireless network adapters connect directly to your computer. However, your computer must imperatively stay turned on in order for the other computers in your local network to have an Internet connection.
* PC CARD ADAPTERS
A good laptop computer will come with a PC card slot that allows for use of a PCMCIA card. The antenna may be integrated in the card or it could be external, needing to be deployed for better reception.
For your laptop, a PC card is a better choice than a USB adapter. While both formats are similarly priced, a PC card is less cumbersome. Today, practically all laptops should be Wi-Fi b/g Wireless protocol compliant.
Generally speaking, desktop computers ( home computers, work stations, servers... )should be equipped with a USB sender-receiver, which is easier to install and cheaper than a PCI card ( a PC card can be mounted on a PC card).
* WI-FI RANGE
The maximum range for a Wi-Fi system without an amplified antenna depends on several factors, namely the configuration of the location and the Wi-Fi standard used.
For an installation in your home or office, the 802.11b standard works quite well because it offers a maximum transfert rate of 11 Mbits.
The radio frequencies of this standard pass through walls and other obstacles more easily that those of the 802.11a standard ( at 55 Mbits ).
Outside in your garden, for example, you may work comfortably up to a distance of 30 meters from your wireless access point 802.11b installed inside your home.
If your access point 802.11a is installed in an uncovered outside area and with a appropriate antenna, you may have a range of up to 60 meters or more.
If you are in an area with a lot of vehicles, machines or other parasites, these distances are reduced by about one third.
Please note : the Wi-Fi Alliance has annonced the availability of data concerning 80 hotspots certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
the Zone Finder identifies Hotspots according to their situation and type : aiports, hotels, restaurants, cybercafés ... This information can be downloaded as an Exel file.
If you fell uncomfortable installing your own network, contact a certified Wi(Fi installer.
To play games over a network or to transfer files, you can casily improvise, equipping each computer with a Wi-Fi card.
To share an Internet connection without a PC host, choose the infrastructure method. For this network topology ( that' s the technical term ! ) , you will need one Wi-Fi card for each PC you'll be connecting, a modem to compress and decompress the data transferred, a router to send the right data to the right PC and an access point to connect the PCs to the Internet. Today, routers and access points will be combined logether in one product. Don't hesitate to use your Windows Help program, which is very user-friendly.
SOME TECHNICAL PROBLEMS TO RESOLVE
The wireless range is supposed to be 30 meters for an interior installation, but it is often less. This is because materials like cement and metallic powders can negatively affect the propagation of radio waves. Wireless transfert rates are often slower than their cabled companions : 1.3 Mo/s with Wi-Fi compared to 12.5 Mo/s with an Ethernet network base 100. However, this difference is mainly theoretical. In fact, the 1.3 Mo/s offered by Wi-Fi is equivalent to 20 times the speed of an ADSL connection.
In contrast, large file tranfers from PC to PC are often slower with Wi-Fi. A 700 Mo movie will take 10 minutes to transfert from from PC to PC with Wi-Fi, compared to only 1 minute with an Ethernet connection. A 8 Go movie in Mpeg2 format will take a little less than 2 hours to transfer by Wi-Fi, compared to 10 minutes by Ethernet.
CONNECTING TO THE INTERNET WITH COMPLETE FREEDOM
Connecting to the Internet wirelessly and without a phone jack is already possible. Wireless service promoters are discussing developing a wireless network wihin a building, a neighborhood, a city, or even a country. The objectiveis simple : allow Internet users to connect to the Net wherever they may be - on the terrace of a café, in a bus, an airport or wherever thez may be going. This is called mobility.
Even though we are currently in an experimental phase, many developments have occurred over the past few years and many networks have been installed in the biggest cities of the world, allowing inhabitants of apartment and office buildings to share their connections.
In addition to mobility, another advantage of Wi-Fi is the savings. Once you have acquired the necessary materials, only one Internet connection needs to be paid for ( which you could divide between the number of persons connecting to your Access Point... however, watch out for bandwidth problems ). You could even share files with your neighbors and exchange ideas for chats, get-togethers and outings, for example.
Finally, this type of local network is much faster than others, between 1 to 20 times as fast as the ADSL. However, the fiber optic cable connections available in many cities allow speeds of up to 100 Go !
HOW TO SHARE YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION
If you already have an ADSL or cable connection ( Noos, Numericable, AOL, Alice, etc... ) , choose a router and an access point, or a router/access point compatible with your modem. If you don' t yet have a modem, it is possible to purchase a modem with an integrated router and access point.
Then, connect the router to your modem. Unplug your computer and connect your modem to the VAN or USB port, located on the back of the router. Turn on the router, and then turn on your modem.
Install the first sender-receiver Wi-Fi on the first PC. Turn one one of the computers, no matter which one. Plug into this computer one of the USB sender-receivers and install it using the CD-Rom provided by the manufacturer.
Open the configuration utility application of the sender-receiver and enter " Any " or " SSID " as the name of your network. This will allow you to communicate with any router once it is configured.
Choose the infrastructure mode. There is no communication channel to select. Verify the activation of the dynamic IP address on the first PC. Open the Windows Control Panel and go into your network connections. Select the wireless connection you have just created. Open the properties of the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and verify that box "Obtain an IP adress automatically" has been checked.
Configure the router; install and configure the other wireless sender-receivers. Turn on all the other PCs, turn on the sender-receivers, install their pilots and then your Wi-Fi network will be active. You will be able to connect to the Internet from each computer and transfer files between them.
It can be easy to get lost in the plethora of equipment available today. Many different models built by many different manufacturers are available on the market, already equipped with a Wi-Fi connection. For more information concerning Wi-Fi installations, you may always contact us by e-mail, fax or telephone, and we will gladly assist you in the complex process of selecting these services.
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