What is Wifi: Types, Working, and Applications

What is Wifi: Types, Working, and Applications

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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Oct 11, 2023 17:20 IST

Through Wi-Fi, digital devices can exchange data by radio waves. Devices compatible with Wi-Fi can network via Wireless Access Point with each other, wired devices and the internet.


Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that allows devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and other compatible devices to connect to the internet and communicate with one another without using physical cables. It’s based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards.

Table of Contents

What is WiFi?

Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) is the wireless networking technology that connects devices to the internet. It is the trademark created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. This organization allows using the ‘Wi-Fi Certified’ term only for products that have successfully completed interoperability certification training.

Features of WiFi

The following are the features of Wi-Fi:

  1. WiFi establishes an internet connection for the individual as well as public use. 
  2. The indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi range is dependent upon the environment.
  3. Wi-Fi networks encrypt the radio signal through WPA encryption.
  4. It uses Physical Data Link Layer (PDLL) to operate.
  5. WiFi operates similarly to LAN without the need for wired connections such as wires and cables.

Uses of Wi-Fi

WiFi creates a wireless connection so that we can use it for the following purposes:

  1. Helps devices to exchange information with one another by creating a netwotk. 
  2. Find application in wireless mesh networks. 
  3. Helps in using the Internet of Things devices.
  4. Acts as a hotspot to offer temporary access to Wi-Fi enabled devices so that they do not know about the details of main network.
  5. Enables VoWi-Fi to call anyone, even in areas where there is no mobile network.
  6. Acts as positioning system to recognize the area of a device by detecting the placement of Wi-Fi hotspots.
  7. Constructs simple wireless connections called Point to Point networks to connect two locations that cannot be accessed through the wire.

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How does WiFi work?

Wi-Fi uses Electromagnetic waves for transmitting networks. These WiFi frequencies are split into multiple channels to prevent interference and high traffic. Whenever the user accesses the internet through his device, it converts the requested information into binary code. This binary code gets further translated into wave frequencies with the help of the Wi-Fi chip that is embedded in your devices. 

Among all Electromagnetic waves, Wifi uses radio waves for transmitting information between the router and your device via frequencies. Depending on the data that is being sent, either 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency is used. The higher the frequency is, the greater the amount of data transmitted per second. For the transmission of WiFi signal, the following three media are available:

  • Ethernet(802.3) connection/ Base station: This is the main host network which provides network connection to the router.
  • Access point: It accepts wired Ethernet connection and then converts the wired connection into a wireless connection. It then extends the connection as radio waves.
  • Accessing devices: These are the physical devices on which Wifi is enabled and on which we surf the internet.

These frequencies travel across radio channels and are received by WiFi routers connected to your device. The router converts these frequencies into binary code and translates this code into the requested internet traffic. The router then receives the data via hardwired internet cable. This is a very instantaneous process. 

Types of WiFi Standards

There are four major types of WIFI technologies.

1. Wi-Fi-802.11a 

This standard defines the format and structure of radio signals that are being sent out by Wi-Fi antennas and routers. It supports 5GHz bandwidth with a maximum speed of 54 Mbps. These standards allowed higher speeds than 802.11b. However, higher frequency limits the distance to which the signal will transmit. At present, it is considered to be a legacy protocol. 

2. Wi-Fi-802.11b

This is the first variant of Wi-Fi that was launched using the 2.4 GHz ISM band. Through this protocol, data rates of 11 Mbps were achieved. Also known as Wi-Fi 1, this is cheaper but slower than 802.11a. Similar to 802.11a, it is also a legacy protocol that supports 11 Mbps bandwidth. It works at a reasonable distance only due to its low frequency. Overall, it is good for connectivity with home appliances.

3. Wi-Fi-802.11g

This protocol supports Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN), broadband routers, and other consumer devices. It supports a maximum bandwidth of 54 Mbps. However, practically it could achieve the data transfer rate limit between 24 Mbps and 31 Mbps. Using 2.4 GHz, 802.11g allows devices to give more powerful signals than A. It can operate on 14 different channels between 2.412 GHz to 2.484 GHz. 

4. Wi-Fi-802.11n

Also known as Wi-Fi 4, it provides support for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. It is designed as an improvement to 802.11g. Rather than one, the amount of bandwidth is supported using multiple antennas to increase the data rate. This supports 100 Mbps of bandwidth with increased signal intensity. This provides standardized support for frame aggregation, security improvements, multiple-input and multiple output.

5. Wi-Fi- 802.11ax

This is the Wi-Fi 6, which is an IEEE standard for WLANs. Also known as High-Efficiency WiFi, it is the successor of 802.11ac. This operates in license-exempt bands between 1 to 7.125 GHz. The aim of this Wi-Fi version is to enhance throughput per area in the high-density scenarios.

6. Wi-Fi- 802.11be

This is a probable amendment to the 802.11 IEEE standard that will be designated as Wi-Fi 7. It is expected to be built upon  802.11ax that will focus on the WLAN indoor as well as outdoor operation with 2-6 GHz frequency bands. The maximum expected speed is 30 Gbps. 

Here is a summary of the Wi-Fi standards that have been introduced over the years:

Version IEEE Standard Maximum Linkrate (Mbit/s) Radio Frequency(GHz)
Wi‑Fi 6E 802.11ax 600 – 9608 2.4/5/6
Wi‑Fi 6 802.11ax 600 – 9608 2.4/5
Wi‑Fi 5 802.11ac 433 -6933 5
Wi‑Fi 4 802.11n 72- 600 2.4/5
Wi-Fi 3 802.11g 6- 54 2.4
Wi-Fi 2 802.11a 6-54 5
Wi-Fi 1 802.11b 1-11 2.4
Wi-Fi 0 802.11 1- 2 2.4
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Advantages of Wi-Fi

The following are the advantages of Wi-Fi:

  • Offers connectivity up to 20 meters without using wires
  • Provides security since you can control whom you want to connect with
  • Allows privacy since transmissions cannot be read by others 
  • It does not interfere with other networks
  • The data transfer rate is very fast

Limitations of Wi-Fi

While WiFi has a number of advantages, it has certain limitations as well:

  • WiFi networks allow network connection only in a limited area of 20-25 meters. 
  • Signals lose strength with distance. As the distance increases from the antenna, the connection becomes weak. 
  • Since Wi-Fi networks do not have firewalls, they are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, due to which stealing data is possible.
  • Traffic congestion can slow down performance.
  • It has a slower speed in comparison to a direct cable connection.


WiFi is very useful for establishing internet connection among multiple devices. These have become popular with time since they are cost-effective and offer very high data transfer rates. Along with these advantages, they allow internet connectivity without the use of cables.

About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio