One of the major innovations that has accompanied the rapid expansion of the Internet has been wireless Internet service, also known as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi has made it possible to connect to the Internet nearly everywhere. However, along with its advantages, Wi-Fi has a number of disadvantages.
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is delivered in one of three ways. The first means of transmission is through a dedicated hardware card which fits into a slot on the computer. These cards are often provided by mobile telephone providers to allow users to access the Internet through the same means that mobile telephone users are able to make data transmissions or surf the Internet on their telephones.
The second means of accessing the Internet through Wi-Fi is through a secured network. Access is controlled by users needing a network key to use as a password. The third means of Wi-Fi access is through an unsecured public network. Unsecured networks are often located in places such as public libraries or commercial establishments.
Efficiency, Flexibility and Access
The major advantage of Wi-Fi is the fact that users don't need to be physically connected with the router in order to access the Web. Besides eliminating much of the need for extensive wiring and dedicated work stations, Wi-Fi means the Internet is accessible anywhere users can pick up a signal, which allows for greater flexibility in office configurations. For home users, Wi-Fi means that they can access the Internet anywhere in their homes, and sometimes even outside, such as on a patio or front porch.
Wi-Fi systems can also be much less expensive to set up, since the main cost is in the wiring to the main router. If an existing wired Internet network is already in place, adding Wi-Fi capabilities is relatively simple, with no need to purchase a dedicated work station. Wi-Fi systems are also relatively inexpensive to operate.
Bandwidth and Transmission Speed
The demands of a large number of users attempting to access a Wi-Fi network at once can tax the bandwidth capacity of the network, causing outages. The transmission speed for Wi-Fi networks can also be slow, especially for users located far away from the router. The signal is also subject to interference, especially during bad weather.
Security and Control
A major drawback with Wi-Fi networks is security. While security is more of an issue with public networks, even password-protected networks aren't immune. For companies that use Wi-Fi networks, content control also becomes an issue. With a dedicated computer, certain websites or services can be blocked if they pose a security threat or are determined to be unsuitable for a work environment. This is much more difficult to accomplish with a Wi-Fi network, especially if some users are using their own computers.