How to connect to a wireless network

How to Connect to a Wireless Network

Although Wi-Fi is becoming a popular way of connecting to

the internet, not everyone has caught on with this type of

technology yet.

It is therefore not surprising that a task such as

connecting to a wireless network, which is a routine task

for those already familiar with it, can be quite confusing

for those doing it for the first time.

Below is a list of things that one needs to have or do to

connect to a wireless network.

1. Have a Wi-Fi enabled computer, mobile phone or PDA. This

is the primary requirement in being able to connect to a

wireless network.

If you’re planning to buy those items and wish to use them

in wirelessly browsing the internet, check first if they

are capable of doing that.

Most laptops are already Wi-Fi ready, however, mobile phone

manufacturers have yet to make this a standard feature in

their products.

2. When prompted, choose which wireless network you want to

connect to. Newer computers automatically detect wireless

networks that are within range.

They also indicate whether or not a particular network is

secure or not. Just choose your preferred network and

you’ll be online in no time at all.

3. Have security software installed on your computer. This

is important because most public Wi-Fi networks are

unsecure thus exposing your computer to risks such as

viruses and Trojans.

So make sure that you have an antivirus program and

firewall software before joining a public network.

The advantages and disadvantages of wi-fi

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wi-Fi

Just like everything else in the world, Wi-Fi has its set

of advantages and disadvantages. Below is a low down of how

Wi-Fi may or may not work for you.

The biggest thing that attracts people to Wi-Fi is that one

can find a wireless connection almost everywhere, in larger

cities at least. This aspect makes mobile computing a

reality.

Aside from that, one can connect to a Wi-Fi network for

free or for a minimal fee. There are coffee shops and

restaurants that offer this connection to their patrons in

exchange for a minimum purchase.

Also, there are cities and municipalities where Wi-Fi is

offered for free. This service is often offered by local

governments although sometimes they also work with

broadband providers to create the infrastructure for this.

Then there’s Wi-Fi’s downside. First of all, its range is

very limited. Unless an area has several hotspots, one has

to be as near the source of the signal as possible.

Otherwise, the connection would be terrible.

Even the next generation of IEEE802.11 protocol, the

802.11n, can only offer a range of 250 m outdoors.

There are also security concerns regarding the use of

public Wi-Fi networks. Since these networks are

intentionally or unintentionally unsecure, malicious users

can sniff the data of other people sent and received by

others in the network and use it for criminal purposes such

as identity theft.

But this can be addressed by having an antivirus program

and a firewall installed on an individual’s computer.

The ieee802.11 standard and its protocols

The IEEE802.11 Standard and Its Protocols

It was in 1997 when the Institute of Electrical and

Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the standard for

wireless local area networks (WLANs).

The standard became known as IEEE802.11, with the 802.11

coming from the name of the group who oversaw its

development. Under this standard are several protocols

developed over the years.

Below is a list of them.

1. 802.11

- also known as the Legacy protocol, this is the original

protocol created in 1997. It operates at 2.4 GHz and has a

data rate of 1 and 2 Mbit/s. Its range was limited to 20 m

and 100 m, in indoor and outdoor settings, respectively.

2. 802.11a

- was released in 1999. It operates at 5 GHz to move away

from the 2.4 GHz operating frequency of the Legacy. Its

range only offers a slight improvement from its predecessor

with a range of 35 m indoors and 120 m outdoors. It is,

however, fast with a data rate of 54 Mbit/s.

3. 802.11b

- also released in 1999. Just like the Legacy, it operates

at 2.4 GHz. It has a slightly greater range than the

802.11a, but is slower. The b only has a data rate of 11

Mbit/s.

4. 802.11g

- marries the characteristics of the a and the b. It has a

data rate of 54 Mbit/s like a and has the same range as the

b with 38 m indoors and 140 m outdoors. It was released in

2003.

5. 802.11n

- is set to be released on June 2009. It can operate on

either 2.4 or 5 GHz frequencies. It is fast with a data

rate of 248 Mbit/s and has an indoor range of 70 m and up

to 250 m outdoors.

Where to find wifi hotspots

Where to Find Wi-Fi Hotspots

The Wi-Fi hotspot is nothing short of a phenomenon for

wireless computing. Since it made the internet publicly

available, this technology enabled laptops to be truly

mobile computers.

While not every country has picked up on this technology

yet, there are several major cities and areas in the world

where it has been adapted. Below is a list of some of the

typical places where you can find Wi-Fi hotspots.

1. Coffee shops

- have gained popularity as places where people can meet

and have a good cup of coffee. But today, coffee shops have

now also become hubs for internet users. The good thing

here is that, they offer free and unlimited internet

connection to their patrons usually by just making a

minimum purchase.

2. Hotels

- more and more hotels offer this service which is mainly

geared towards business travellers. They can be accessed in

hotel rooms and lobbies. The only downside here is that

they are usually paid separately from the room rates and

can be quite expensive.

3. Airports

- Wi-Fi hotspots can now be found in major international

airports. This is also mainly geared towards business

travellers who may want to check their e-mail just before

boardingthe plane.

While hotspots are great places to get free internet

connection, people should also be aware that most of them

are unsecure.

It means that the data that anyone sends through the

network may be read by hackers and could be used for

criminal activities such as identity theft. Users can

protect themselves by not visiting websites that require

sensitive information when connected to unsecure networks.

The history of wi-fi

The History of Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is a relatively new type of technology that is just

starting to attract a wide following worldwide. Some

consider it to be one of the most significant innovations

in technology since the internet came to the mainstream.

Because of it, computers are now able to connect to the

internet and to other computers wirelessly.

The precursor of today’s Wi-Fi was developed sometime in

the early 1990s by the Netherlands-based company NCR

Corporation/AT&T (which later became known as Lucent &

Agere Systems). Called WaveLAN, it was originally intended

to be used in cash registers.

Several competing standards prevented the immediate success

of having wireless networks. However, with the development

of the IEEE 802.11 standard and the release of its first

protocol in 1997, this technology slowly but surely came

into the mainstream.

Since then, several protocols were released and several

more will be released to address issues such as range and

speed.

The first protocol released in 1997, now known as the

Legacy mode, operated in the 2.4 GHz frequency. The

throughput and data rate are slow by today’s standards,

with only 0.9 and 2 Mbit/s, respectively. 802.11 a and b

came two years later in 1999 with the a protocol offering

faster speeds while the b provided a wider range.

The elements of the two were later merged in 2003 when the

802.11g protocol was released. The new protocol offered the

speed of the a and the range of the b.

Newer protocols are currently under development. The n, set

to be released mid-2009 provides greater speeds and almost

double the range of the a/b/g protocols. Another one, the

802.11y, is set to be released in mid-2008 has the same

speed as the g protocol although the y has an outdoor range

of as much as 5 kilometers.

Security issues involved when using connecting to wifi hotspots

Security Issues Involved When Using Connecting to Wi-Fi

Hotspots

The availability of Wi-Fi hotspots in major cities in the

world has made laptops and even Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones

and PDAs truly mobile computers.

People who are always on the go such as business travellers

benefit from this because they can access their e-mail and

other information from any place where these hotspots are

available.

However, in spite of the convenience that Wi-Fi brings,

there is also a risk involved in using it.

Most Wi-Fi hotspots are unsecure. Because of this, data

that are sent through these wireless networks can be read

by anyone on the network who has the right tools.

Packet sniffers are a good example of such a tool. Unsecure

networks are also called ‘poisoned hotspots’ because of the

penchant of hackers and identity thieves for stealing other

people’s sensitive information.

The good thing is that there are several ways that users

can do to protect themselves. One security measure is by

turning off file sharing in the computer before connecting

to a hotspot.

This prevents other users to see what is in your shared

folder and mess with it. Another measure is by turning on

their computer’s personal firewall. They basically help

restrict traffic to and from their computers.

This is an important tool that people shouldn’t go without.

There are a number of good free firewalls out there which

why there’s no reason for users to not protect themselves.

Finally, if one is in a hotspot but he/she doesn’t want to

connect to the network, it would be good to disable their

wireless adapter. This helps prevent people from

unwittingly sending out data that others may sniff.

There are other ways that people can do to protect

themselves in Wi-Fi hotspots along with the ones mentioned

above. Check them out and have a more secure hotspot

experience.

What you need to connect to wifi hotspots

What You Need to Connect to Wi-Fi Hotspots

Most modern laptops, mobile phones and PDAs are Wi-Fi

enabled which makes them easier to use in Wi-Fi hotspots

without modifying the software and hardware of their

gadget.

But for those that are not equipped with the needed tools

to connect to a hotspot, here are some things that they

should have in order to do so.

1. Wireless adapter

- this is the primary requirement in being able to connect

to a hotspot. The wireless adapter is the one that

transmits data to and from the computer. Again, most modern

laptops are equipped with this. But for those without an

adapter, they can buy a wireless card or even a USB adapter

as an add-on.

2. Have the same IEEE802.11 protocol as the hotspot

- IEEE802.11 is a standard used by Wi-Fi. Under this are

different protocols that address specific wireless

networking needs such as speed and range. Although modern

wireless adapters are backward compatible, meaning they can

handle new as well as old protocols, older ones may have

problems connecting to hotspots using a protocol different

from what they use.

Therefore one has to make sure that either his/her laptop

is compatible to the one used by the hotspot, or get a

laptop that supports different protocols to connect to

different hotspots easily.

3. A good location in order to connect to a hotspot

- one also has to be within the hotspot’s range. The rule

of thumb when connecting to a hotspot is that the closer

one is to the source, the better. Laptops usually indicate

the signal strength so finding a good range should be easy.

What is wifi and what are wifi hotspots

What is Wi-Fi and What are Wi-Fi Hotspots?

Wi-Fi has been the buzzword among techies and the

not-so-techie people alike for quite some time now. And

while that is the case, not everyone knows exactly what it

means and what it stands for.

For starters, Wi-Fi is a brand of wireless technology that

is owned by the group called the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The group’s aim is to improve the interoperability of

wireless local area network (WLAN) products by following

the IEEE 802.11 standards.

This technology is usually used by mobile computers

although more and more mobile phones and PDAs are designed

to be Wi-Fi-enabled. As a wireless network, Wi-Fi does away

with the Ethernet cables that used to connect one computer

to another as well as one computer to the internet.

Another jargon in the wireless LAN community is called the

Wi-Fi hotspot, simply known as hotspot. A hotspot is any

public area that offers free or paid wireless internet

connection.

Some of them cover only a small area (e. g. hotel lobbies),

while there are those that cover an entire city (e. g.

municipal hotspots).

While having hotspots has made cheap and even free internet

connection possible, there are also security issues that

accompany this technology.

Some hotspots are intentionally or unintentionally

unsecured so that any data sent over the network is

unencrypted. Because of this, malicious users can sniff

(i. e. monitor) data sent by others who are in the same

network.

But several solutions such as having a Virtual Private

Network (VPN) are available, although they not widely used

because of the costs of implementing them.

Municipal wifi

Municipal Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is becoming a more and more popular way for people to

access the internet in public. This is especially the case

in larger cities where one can connect to the internet

through a Wi-Fi service offered by commercial

establishments and in public areas.

But lately, another entity has also begun providing

wireless internet access to people which is the local

government.

This broadband service brought by an area’s local

government is popularly known as municipal Wi-Fi. The local

government may shoulder the service fully or partially,

depending on the set-up that they choose.

For services fully-operated by the city government or the

municipality, they use taxpayers’ money to build the

infrastructure to build a citywide wireless network. Or

they could also provide this service for a minimal fee to

the consumers.

Meanwhile, governments can also outsource this and avail of

the services of a private company. The company will be

responsible for building the infrastructure as well as its

maintenance.

The good thing about local governments providing wireless

internet access is that it enables everyone with the right

tools (e. g. a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or PDA) to get to the

internet for free. Aside from that, the government itself

can use this service in connecting the computers of their

offices wirelessly.

However, this can also spell bad news to other broadband

providers because giving out internet access for free is

something that they cannot afford. Also, this kind of

set-up discourages the same providers from partnering with

local governments because of its lack of a clear source of

income.

Commercial vs. free hotspots

Commercial vs. Free Hotspots

Wherever Wi-Fi hotspots are available, users usually have

to choose between two options: either connect to a paid

connection or free one.

Free hotspots are more popular because not only do

commercial establishments provide this but also users at

home who have wireless connections and who wittingly or

unwittingly share their connection.

The main attraction in free hotspots is that, well, they

are free. What one has to do is simply connect to that

network and browse the day away.

Aside from that, there are groups that believe in sharing

their bandwidth with others. They say that since they do

not maximize their bandwidth anyway, they might as well let

others jump into their connection too.

But free hotspots have their share of problems. They are

usually unsecure which enables anyone with the right

software to sniff the data sent by other people on the

network. It can be a breeding ground for hackers and

identity thieves.

Meanwhile, there’s the alternative of having paid Wi-Fi

connections. This type of hotspot can usually be found in

airports. This mainly caters to business travellers who

need to connect to the internet even at the airport.

The good thing with this option is that it is more secure

because of several measures made by airports in ensuring

the privacy of data over the network.

But the data isn’t completely secure. They are still

logged, by airports for example, for purposes of having

usage records that law enforcement agencies require in

monitoring criminal activity.