Wi-Fi is the wireless technology used to connect computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices to the internet.
Ironically, it doesn’t stand for anything. Wi-Fi, often referred to as WiFi, wifi, wi-fi or wi fi, is often thought to be short for Wireless Fidelity but there is no such thing. 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 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.
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 Wifi 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 Wifi network, as well as potential interference from other electromagnetic devices in the home.
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 through your mobile carrier.
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, normally with less latency and more data than you get with satellite. The advantages are better speeds and reliability depending on your carrier. A few of the downfalls of 4G LTE Home Internet can include limited availability and cost of service and setup.
As 5G Home Internet (Fixed Wireless Access) becomes more widely available, it has the potential to become one of the best and most cost-efficient internet services out there. Using a new spectrum of powerful radio frequencies over a wireless network, it offers greater capacity than 4G, significantly faster speeds (up to 1Gig) and less latency than what most people have at home. Since the 5G wireless base stations are typically located within 10 miles of homes, service reliability is often remarkable. The only real drawback to 5G Home Internet right now is that availability is so limited, but that’s all about to change.
As mentioned, there are several ways to get wireless service at your home and most depend on geographical location and availability. 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 Wifi 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 superior reliability and Verizon’s fastest download speeds all the way up to 940 Mbps, check if Fios Internet or 5G Home Internet are available at your address.