The evolution of Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi plays a very big part in today’s society, admittedly we can’t live without it. Software and technologies are ever changing, and we all will forever be playing catch up on the ever-evolving topic.

Ever wondered how Wi-Fi works? Well, essentially it gets its broadband internet to your trusty device using wireless transmitters and radio signals. When the transmitter obtains the data from the internet it works to turn that data into a radio signal. This radio signal can be obtained and viewed by Wi-Fi enabled devices. The information is then traded between the transmitter and the device. All that work just to send a tweet, ay!

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) were the ones, in 1991, to start the ball rolling in regards to standardizing WLAN technologies. A few years down the line, and the IEEE debuted the 802.11 standard. Ever heard of 802.11? Well, now-a-days its more commonly known as Wi-Fi. The 802.11 standard provides the wireless counterpart to Ethernet, and the Wi-Fi alliance certifies product.

Within Wi-Fi there are five essential parts that are seen when we look at general improvements. They are as follows; Wi-Fi a, b, g, n and ac.
Essentially 802.11a was an enhancement over the initial 802.11 due to its increased throughput. 802.11 only could transmit data at 2 MB/s whereas 802.11a could transmit data at 54 MB/s, a clear improvement.
802.11b is different, this inherited the Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum from the original 802.11 standard, including the operational frequency of 2.4 GHz. The big change in 802.11b was the data rate, the maximum was around 11MB/s, this could then be comparable to the traditional Ethernet speeds which were highly available in 1999/2000. Consumers now could use Wi-Fi with minimal weaknesses in speed.
802.11g has the best of both worlds, combining the most valued parts of a and b. The signal range is good, unlike 802.11a, however there could be some interference from other devices.
802.11n was finalised in 2009 after being in the pipeline for 3 years. 802.11n shows major improvement across the board, it uses multiple wireless signals and antennas, includes MIMO (Multiple input, Multiple Output) technology which increases data transfer speed up to 450Mbos.
802.11ac (aka 5G Wi-Fi) is the latest cohort of Wi-Fi signalling in popular use the new technology utilizes dual-band wireless technology. It is more advanced than the previous 802.11n standard. 802.11ac represents the 5th generation of Wi-Fi technology, it offers better network performance and capability. The development started in 2011 and was finalized at the end of 2013. This was then officially approved in January 2014. 802.11ac was designed to perform like Gigabit Ethernet, it also offers data rates of up to 1 Gbps. AC operates in the 5 GHz signal. An access point from 802.11ac employs beamforming which has been designed to increase the reliability of Wi-Fi connections in more crowded areas. The second-generation Wave 2 supports MIMO with a total of eight simultaneous streams and up to four per client.

In the year 2000 not everybody had access to the Internet or even to Wi-Fi resulting in just 52% of Americans going online a day. Fast forward to 2016, 88% now use the Internet per day. A massive 36% increase over 16 years. Many people complain about how consumed our society is with the internet and Wi-Fi, however it is giving people the potential to improve themselves. The BBC have stated that the Police are using their phones more and more in their daily routine. They have a big presence on social media which enables people to privately, or publicly, message them their issues/concerns they may have in their area. This is beneficial as in some situations it may not be possible, or safe to pick up the phone and speak.