From running for the bus to getting your double mocha-latte-chino ‘to go’ – the whole world is on the move so it’s no wonder the internet has followed suit! WiFi has been around for quite some time now but do you know what it means? What it stands for? Or how it works? We give you the lowdown on the high-speed network connection that’s taken the world by storm.

What WiFi Stands For

OMG, FYI – WiFi is TDF! Didn’t you get the memo, everyone speaks in acronyms now! Although WiFi is a term that’s as engrained in our vocabulary as ‘Google it’ is, it’s actually an acronym for the two words ‘Wireless Fidelity’. But knowing the term isn’t going to explain how you can log onto the internet without your device actually being connected to anything.

How it works

If you hadn’t already guessed, the clue is in the word ‘wireless’! WiFi gives you access to the World Wide Web at broadband speeds, without the mess of wires or cables… as long as you have a compatible device (PC, Mac, mobile phone) and an internet service provider.

In a similar way to how your mobile phone operates, a wireless network will use a radio wave to send a signal from your computer to a wireless router using an antenna. The router then translates the signal and sends the information to the Internet using a wired connection. This sequence of events can also be reversed, with the router receiving information from the internet, decoding it and sending it to your computer’s wireless adapter.

Ok, so that may as well be double Dutch to anyone who simply wants to connect to a wireless network but a bit of background is always good!

Connecting To A Network

So now you know some of the technical things behind WiFi, how do you get your PC to connect to your wireless network or a wireless hotspot?

Firstly, if your computer does not have a wireless networking card, you can buy USB connections that have the same functionality. Once you have ensured you have a wireless card or USB extension set up, your device will notify you when you are in a wireless hotspot and ask you if you wish to join it. Some networks will need you to subscribe, but many hotels, cafés and library’s have free WiFi hotspots that you can join without subscribing.

Setting up a home network might be a little bit trickier but it’s still relatively simple. Again, you’ll need a PC that’s compatible, a wireless router and an internet connection.

Connect your router to a port (similar to the way the phone in your house would be connected) using an Ethernet cable. Once this is connected, you will need to set the router up with your device using the instructions and passwords given to you by your internet service provider.

Once you have this done, you should be able to connect any WiFi enabled device within the range of your router to the internet wire-free!

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