NadineCoyleRocks 10:20 22 Jan 2003
  NadineCoyleRocks 10:20 22 Jan 2003

I know this isn't as such a helpdesk problem but I was wondering if someone could clarify how WiFi works?

I’m slightly confused as to how WiFi would give people internet access from anywhere at anytime as is promised by so many retailers.

For example I have heard that restaurants, airports etc will soon be implementing “WiFi hotspots” for users to connect to the internet. How does this work in terms of connecting to an ISP?

Surely a broadband connection is required close by to connect to (WiFi must have its distance restrictions). Basically (because I’m confusing myself right now!!) what is required for a user with a WiFi enabled laptop to connect to an ISP?

Hope someone can help clear this up for me


  Gemma 10:49 22 Jan 2003

WiFi (standard 802.11 wireless network)is an interoperable wireless network (like a local area ethernet network, LAN, without the wires).

It starts with the internet service provider (ISP) who provides wired access through a regular server PC to the internet. The server connects this to radio transmitter / receiver units that cover, say, a hotel, concourse, airport business lounge. This connection is usually done through a regular wired LAN.

The user has a WiFi card in his laptop which works to the 802.11 standard. When the server detects a client there is the usual connection process. The client is allocated an IP address and can then connect to the internet via the wireless network and the wired connection to the ISP.

As you can imagine, there is a load of other stuff around this such as billing, authentication and security which actually is the hard bit. Everything else is essentially "out of the box".

Anywhere and anytime is hype....

  cherria 10:50 22 Jan 2003

Each provider of a wi-fi hotspot has a link to an ISP attached to their wi-fi access point.

If you're laptop is configured to obtain its IP address using DHCP then each time you start it, it will pick up the nearest wi-fi signal and be dynamically assigned an IP address allowing you to access the internet through the ISP.

Range can be anything up to about 1k with a clear line of sight but deteriorates with obstacles (walls, floors, cappuccino machines etc.)

each hotspot may have a way of charging you to access their wi-fi network in which case you may have to change a configuration on your machine each time you move to a new hotspot they may be able to give you a username and password that works for a limited period of time.

hope this helps

  NadineCoyleRocks 11:04 22 Jan 2003

Thanks this seems to have cleared the confusion!

What I was trying to figure out in my own mind was that unless you had a hard wired connection to a ISP within say your own home, WiFi alone could not give you internet access.

So in effect taking the home environment you would require a PC wired to a broadband connection, a wifi hub/receiver connected to the PC and then with your wifi capapble laptop (and only then) would you be able to access the internet via your broadband connection.

So it would have to be:
ISP---->---hard wired connection--->----PC/server-->--transmitter/reciever--->---laptop

Is this correct?

  cherria 11:24 22 Jan 2003

Nearly, this works if you have a USB router, I have ethernet so I have

ISP-->hard wired BT socket-->hardwired to ADSL router --> wifitransmitter-->laptop

you can combine the adsl router and the transmitter into a wifi adsl router but I had the router first so added the transmitter

  jazzypop 11:27 22 Jan 2003

Your method would work. It would be simpler to install a wireless router, if you want to connect multiple PCs wirelessly.

ISP -> Hard wired connection -> Wireless router -> Wireless network cards in PCs

  NadineCoyleRocks 12:34 22 Jan 2003

Final point....promise!

I understand completely now but have one last question, is it possible to purchase a ADSL router and wireless transmitter in one or are these seperate products?

  Gemma 18:01 22 Jan 2003

There are a number available. Go for one that has, say, a four port ethernet switch built in which will allow you to attach the PC in same room more cheaply.

You will then need an wifi device in each other PC.

Search on Google using "adsl wireless router uk" without the quotes.

1. The seller assures you that it will work with your ISP i.e. supports the correct protocols.
2. Do not leave the radio encryption as the factory default.
3.Read the manual twice.....
4.Post here if you don't....

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