Wi-Fi is a wireless technology used to connect computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices to the internet.
Wi-Fi is the radio signal sent from a wireless router to a nearby device, which translates the signal into data you can see and use. The device transmits a radio signal back to the router, which connects to the internet by wire or cable.
What is a Wi-Fi network?
A Wi-Fi network is simply an internet connection that’s shared with multiple devices in a home or business via a wireless router. The router is connected directly to your internet modem and acts as a hub to broadcast the internet signal to all your Wi-Fi enabled devices. This gives you flexibility to stay connected to the internet as long as you’re within your network coverage area.
What does Wi-Fi stand for?
The term was created by a marketing firm because the wireless industry was looking for a user-friendly name to refer to some not so user-friendly technology known as IEEE 802.11 and the name stuck. Wi-Fi, often referred to as WiFi, wifi, wi-fi or wi fi, is often thought to be short for Wireless Fidelity and the organization that paid for the marketing firm is sometimes referred to as the Wireless Fidelity Alliance Inc.
How does Wi-Fi work?
Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transmit data from your wireless router to your Wi-Fi enabled devices like your TV, smartphone, tablet and computer. Because they communicate with each other over airwaves, your devices and personal information can become vulnerable to hackers, cyber-attacks and other threats. This is especially true when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network at places like a coffee shop or airport. When possible, it’s best to connect to a wireless network that is password-protected or a personal hotspot.
Types of Wi-Fi connections
Your options for connecting wirelessly at home are growing as mobile networks expand into the home internet realm. As with internet service, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of wireless connection, such as speed and strength of signal. We’ve outlined a few of them here.
Most homes use a wireless router to access the internet these days. The pros include convenience of setup, mobility within range of the Wi-Fi access point (router) and the ability to connect multiple devices. The cons: limited bandwidth and reduced speed as more devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, as well as potential interference from other electromagnetic devices in the home.
Mobile hotspot or jetpack
Mobile and dedicated hotspots are becoming a more popular way of connecting safely on the go. Two common hotspot devices are your smartphone and a jetpack. Most any smartphone or tablet today can be used as a temporary hotspot and is a great option if you occasionally need it. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require buying extra devices, but it can zap your battery life and data pretty fast. On the other hand, a jetpack acts as a dedicated mobile hotspot that picks up a signal from cell towers in your area just like your smartphone. More devices can connect to it and it offers a greater range of Wi-Fi. And because it’s a separate device, your smartphone battery power doesn’t get touched. The downfall is having to buy the jetpack and a separate plan.
LTE Home Internet
If you live in a rural area where your internet options are limited, 4G LTE Home Internet is worth considering. It offers high speed internet service delivered over cell phone towers and mobile networks with average download speeds around 25 Mbps. The advantages of LTE over satellite are better speeds and reliability depending on your carrier.
5G Home Internet
5G Home Internet (Fixed Wireless Access) is now in more places around the country.* Even with multiple devices connected, it’s reliable and fast enough to power your whole home. Fixed wireless access has a simple plug and play setup, which means there are no messy wires and no need to wait for a technician to come to your home for setup.
How to get Wi-Fi at home
As mentioned, there are several ways to get wireless service at your home and most depend on geographical location and availability. (See what Wi-Fi home internet is available in your area.) The majority of urban and suburban areas offer most of these services, with 5G Home Internet right around the corner. Rural areas will most likely offer satellite and 4G LTE Home Internet. If you have a wired internet service, you’ll be able to set up your own Wi-Fi network at home. By connecting a router to your modem, you can share your internet connection with all your Wi-Fi enabled devices within range. If your home has two levels, concrete walls or random dead zones, adding a Wi-Fi extender that relays the wireless signal to these areas can make a big difference.
Keep in mind that as the number of your mobile devices grows, so does the demand for bandwidth. To keep your devices running at top speeds, you may need to upgrade your internet speed plan. Verizon offers several internet services ranging from DSL and fiber to 5G Home Internet, depending on your location. For better reliability and Verizon’s fastest download speeds, check if Fios Internet or 5G Home Internet are available at your address.
*5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Home available in select areas.
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