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Surfing the World Wide Web, a weekly article

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Surfing the World Wide Waves (WWW)

WIFI

For those of you who enjoy having access from anywhere in your home WIFI is a very interesting option. As it becomes more affordable to purchase it is now possible to have a home with access to the World Wide Web and the Internet from anywhere. Imagine that you're in the kitchen preparing a meal and you've found sites with information about the meal you'd like to prepare. Rather than having to print out the document or going to the computer room to get the information simply bring the laptop to your kitchen and type your request.

It's a radio technology working at around 2.4 GHz with a variety of standards of which 802.11b provides access at 11 Mbytes per second.Add to this ADSL and you've got a very interesting tool for surfing the world wide web. It requires only cables from the modem to the transmitter which can be an external device which servs as an AP or use a card from your desktop to give Internet access throughout the home and towards the garden. For bussinesses and schools this is quite a good technology to use because there will be no need for hundreds of meters of cable for every user. Instead you'll have access anywhere as long as you've got a receiver on the machine you want to use. In schools and businnesses there will be the need for this technology as more and more of the resources will be made available through the intranet and world wide web.

In Public places such as the exhibition halls for the Telecom 2003 or Geneva International Airport WIFI access has been made available to the public for a certain user fee. This means that whilst waiting for a plane or doing business you don't need to hunt for an access point as it's all around you. If you're waiting for your flight you still have access to your favourite discussion forums, news websites, e-mail etc. In some ways this technology will enable the use of Internet technologies to cope with an ever expanding list of possibilities for internet use.

Because of it's nature WIFI may be used in a cellular method, such as can be seen by today's GSM technology. If you're covering a floor then you may need an access point to cover most of the floor but some regions may have poor signal strength due to the human bodies abosrbing the radiowaves or microwaves scrambling the signal. In so doing access can be chosen according to whether it's a floor, a building or an area. In Geneva airport for example you may find that the wifi technology is available in each room and that each room has an access point to provide coverage. In the case of a large building, for example at telecom 2003 then you may find that several access points are spread around the exhibition halls.

Another element of WIFI technology is that depending on the amount of users on a single cell there may be a need to resize the access to smaller cells when there is high demand so that each user has the strongest signal. Depending on whether the user is mobile or not, for example in a car, the need for the cells to overlap will be quite evident. In overlapping the cells it should be possible to move from one cell to another whilst maintaining the ability to work.

One of the most important elements of WIFI technologies is that their advantage with high speed access from anywhere is possible it also means that your security may be compromised if you have no firewall setup or that others will use your internet link from the parking outside your building. There are several methods of protecting your company such as making sure that you block the signal for example. Remember that anyone can setup an access point and that by setting up their access point they can fool your computer in connecting to them. If such things happen and if your data is intercepted then it's possible that they see all your information, including UBS data for example.

WIFI is great for surfing the World Wide Web and visiting sites of interest or moving various files from one terminal to another but when dealing with e-banking etc. it's better to depend on your classic lan cables where you know they're plugged in.

As an example of a setup take the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router as an access point and use Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G Notebook Adapter for your for your laptop and the whole setup costs less than $200

Articles by Richard Azia unless otherwise indicated.


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