What is Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity which is simply a marketing term to distinguish it from cellular wireless Internet. Wi-Fi technically refers to a standard called 802.11. Wireless Internet allows you to connect to the Internet, you guessed it … without any wires! The idea is that you take one broadband Internet connection such as DSL or Cable or Satellite, then you attach a ‘Wireless Access Point’ (WAP) which transmits the signal thru the airwaves, using radio signals. If another computer is equipped with a wireless adapter (a little antenna), they can pick up this signal and, Voila! They’re on the Internet. Lots of hotels, airports and coffee shops are installing these wireless access points so that people can browse the Internet while relaxing in their facility. Some of them are free, some of them only allow your browser to display their ‘sign-on’ screen until you pay for a membership, then you can browse to anywhere you want. Check out wi-fihotspotlist to see listings of hot spots all over the world. For example, Fort Lauderdale shows 36 hot spots. I especially like the RV.net list of RV parks with Wi-Fi because it is a list by RVers for RVers.

A simple Wi-Fi network can transmit signal in about a 150 foot radius. This is fine for many homes or small offices. For an RV park, you need high-powered amplifiers and high-gain antennas to transmit the signal further. Another technology called ’3G’ can cover up to 30 miles, but this is a completely different animal. It is based on cell-phone technology and will be controlled by the cell-phone companies. Whereas Wi-Fi is something anyone can set up for themselves – just get one broadband Internet connection and then share it via a network using the Wireless Access Point. The confusion comes because both Wi-Fi and 3G offer the same end result: connecting to the Internet without wires. If you want to read more technical details, check out Wireless Internet Access: Wi-Fi vs. 3G .

 

Here are the two antennas that Coach Connect installed at Paradise Island RV Park in Fort Lauderdale. They allow the Wi-Fi Internet access to extend to almost all of the 232 sites.

 

The wireless adapter that you need on your computer takes many shapes and sizes. Many are the size of credit cards that fit in your computer’s PC card slot. Some are even built in to the computer. These adapters are fine for indoor wireless networks, but rarely have the right stuff to work in an RV park.

A Wi-Fi network works like a 2-way radio. The big antennas push the signal throughout the park, but the individual computer adapters have to have enough power and directional capability to communicate *back* before you can connect to the Internet.

 

The senao USB adapter has two antennas that can be independently pointed and a long cable to attach to the computer.

Read more about Wi-Fi adapters.

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© 2004 Guld Systems, Inc.

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