Wireless Internet

Wireless internet or wi-fi (wireless fidelity) work the same way as a cordless phone; it transmits a signal between a base station and your laptop. Newer laptops will have a built in antenna that sends/receives that signal, while older models will require an attachable, external wireless network card. To connect to the internet, you will need to visit a "hotspot", a public access point with a limited, unobstructed connection to a base station (usually less than 300 feet away). Hotspots are commonly found at cafes, hotels, libraries, etc.

If you're using wireless internet within the home, you'll require a more permanent connection to a base station. In this case, an antenna is attached to the outside of your home (much like a satellite dish). A modem is also used to establish a wireless network (LAN) within your home. The radio signal passes through the antenna, across the wireless network at finally to your computer - voila! Wireless internet access. In addition to the obvious advantage of freedom, wireless internet provides broadband service similar to cable and DSL internet. The downside is the signal can be degraded or disrupted by reflective materials (water, mirrors) and thick construction materials (concrete, steel).

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