How Does Data Transfer Over a Wireless Network?

By Chad Hunter

A wireless network functions with non-physical media. Where a wired network must use cables (e.g., CAT5 or fiber-optic), a wireless network is able to connect its components, such as PCs, laptops, servers and printers, with radio waves, microwaves, line-of-sight infrared or satellite communication. Most wireless networks work off of radio waves. Each component of a wireless network has an adapter or network card that is designed to intercept and broadcast specifically tuned radio waves. The adapters work much like a radio antenna.

The network will have a device called a wireless router which physically attaches to the incoming network and thus the Internet via high speed broadband or cable. The wireless router takes the physically transmitted data and converts it into radio waves, which it transmits via its antennae. The router also reverses this process by taking information from wireless sources (such as a computer) and translates them from the radio waves into language for the physically connected Internet connection to use.

Data is transmitted by being converted from its binary form of zeroes and ones into radio wave media. The newly converted data is then broadcasted and intercepted by wireless adapters, which then transform the radio data into zeroes and ones for the computer to understand. Wireless networks use radio frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Using a higher frequency allows for more data to be transmitted. As all computer networks have a code for the standards in which they operate; wireless networks function under the 802.11 standard.