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NOTE:  Items highlighted in RED are defined elsewhere in this Glossary, while items highlighted in BLUE are site links for further information.

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WI-FI:  When used in a definition, it “has come to meanwireless.  It is the opposite of wired or cabled; obviously, having no wires to connect computer hardware.  Wireless is less expensive to install, easy to move and expand, but can be slower, less secure. For examples of wireless connections, see the following definitions below, expanding on both the  “Wi” and the “Fi” parts of the term.

I say “come to mean” for a reason:  Actually, Wi-Fi actually means absolutely nothing!  In 1999, WECA (see Associations) was looking for a user-friendly name for the wireless standard that it was just starting to promote.  It hired Interbrand, the company responsible for naming Prozak and also several automobiles, to come up with a name that could be used in place of “IEEE 802.11b”.  A list of thirteen names was provided and the winner chosen by WECA was Wi-Fi.  The subject of “wireless fidelity” never came up and would have been considered to be a meaningless moniker.  The confusion may have been created when in the early days the Wi-Fi Alliance (again, see Associations) was promoting Wi-Fi and briefly used the unfortunate tag line “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”.  Evidently, they didn’t know their own definition, either.  [See, “Wireless Fidelity” Debunked, by Naomi Graychase for Wi-Fi Planet.]

THE NUMBERS SHOW THE GROWTH:  Studies show that the average consumer household uses about six connected devices, things like smart phones, tablets, PCs, set-top devices, pads, gaming consoles, wearable health and fitness bracelets and the like.  And it is predicted that by 2019 Wi-Fi will be carrying more than half of all internet traffic.  And this doesn’t even begin to include the ramping up of all types of  appliances with IoT capabilities. The 2015 Cisco 11th Annual Visual Networking Index predicts that smartphone traffic will account for 30% of total IP traffic (which will exceed a zetabyte by 2016) up from only 8% in 2015, traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for 2/3 of total IP traffic by 2020, while wired devices will account for only 34% of IP traffic vs. 66% for mobile and Wi-Fi devices (they were only at 52% in 2015)will exceed PC traffic by 2020, Consequently, it’s important to make sure that you have the best wireless router hardware and firmware and the  fastest broadband connection to keep up with your ever-increasing wireless requirements.

Hardware upgrade could direct this change.  A DARPA-funded research team has developed a tiny component for silicon based circuitry that could actually double the radio frequency (“RF”) capacity for wireless communications, offering faster web-searching as well as the development of smaller, less expensive and more readily upgraded antenna arrays for radar, signals intelligence and other applications.  The work was led by Columbia University electrical engineers and funded under DARPA’s Arrays at Commercial Timescales program,  which looks to develop wireless electronic components that can be interated into larger, more advanced systems quickly.

WIRELESS IS THE FUTURE

Data (U.S. Commerce Dept, Census Bureau) reflects that Americans are abandoning residential cabled broadband in favor of a mobile-only diet, and providers are taking interest in the huge shift in how citizens experience the Web.  Today (2016), nearly one-third of households earning less than $25K/year exclusively use mobile Internet to browse the web, up from 16% in 2013. This trend might be understandable, as poorer people might gravitate to public libraries, McDonalds and other wireless hot spots to do their homework, shop and otherwise connect.   But people with higher incomes are ditching their wired internet connections at an even faster rate:  In 2013, only 8% of those making $50 - 75K were mobile only, but a couple of years later, that figure is 18%.  Similarly, in the $75 - $100K range, from 8% to 17%, and in the $100,000 and up range,  6% to 15% in the same period. In other words, in just two years, the number of households which are mobile-only have doubled to one in five households.

THE “WIs”

WI-FI:  (Pronounced <why-fhy>).  It is considered to stand for “WIreless FIdelity”.  [But see Wi- , above for the real story.]  This wireless technology began in 1985 with a ruling by the FTC which released the ISM band for unlicensed use.  In 1999, the term Wi-Fi was coined by the WECA (“Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance”; yes, it really exists - I didn’t make this up - it is a trade association established to hold the Wi-Fi trademark under which such products are sold).  See Associations. The term itself refers to a wireless network, from a small one inside just one office or a Starbucks, to one which covers a larger area, such as a town or rural area, within which any person with a computer or other wi-fi device (cellphone  or iPad, for example) can access the Internet

Wi-Fi is synonymous with a standard known as IEEE 802.11 (first released in June 1997), after which are various letter designations (“a”, “b”, “g” and “n” so far, see Wi-Gig below for more) which let the user know the speed and range of the network.  A huge step up came the next IEEE standard, 802.11ac  (IEEE approved in January 2014), with 802.11ax next.  But ad’s (“Millimeter-Wave” technology) much faster rate, although at far less range (because higher frequency signals dissipate much faster), will probably be used more for LAN backbones than edge-to-endpoint hardware devices at first, so you probably won’t see if being used for standard consumer connectivity. AC promises up to 1.3Gbps of real-world throughput, a big improvement over “n’s” 300Mbps.  The new standard combines beam-forming, multiple antennas and wide bands (including operating only at at a higher frequency band at 5Ghz rather than the 2.4Ghz band - so make sure your old network equipment is replaced prior to upgrading) to carry four times the traffic of the previous version and will provide a broader range, better battery life for Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices and more powerful wall-penetration abilities, meaning a single device could possibly provide wireless access to an entire home, carrying three streams of slightly compressed video at once. In addition, Second Wave Wi-Fi, discussed in detail below, is a set of optional components (not proprietary) ratified by the IEEE which uses MU-MIMO to provide even faster speeds across the network.

The most secure and common wireless connection at the moment is the “n” series at up to 250Mbps using WPA2, the standard for which was approved by the IEEE in October 2009.  And. because this standard doesn’t use the 2.4Ghz band, it doesn’t suffer from microwave, cordless telephone and Bluetooth interference that sometimes resulted in the b and g standards.  [To avoid confusion, there will be no standards named 802.11l,o.q,x,ab or ag.  and any standard named “M” is for maintenance.]  In addition, MIMO  smart antenna technology can be used with “n” series wireless routers so that multiple antennas can be used at both the source and the destination, minimizing data errors and optimizing speed.  But remember: Not all N Series routers are MIMO, but all MIMO routers are N Series.

Any user with any brand of product can use any Wi-Fi network regardless of speed (although security may dictate that you sign on with a WEP “key”).  So, when you go to your local Starbucks or to a hotel and hook up wirelessly to the Internet, you’re using their Wi-Fi network. The universal Wi-Fi symbol is shown above. 

Also becoming increasingly available is Wi-Fi Direct, a software protocol that allows Wi-Fi devices to talk to each other without the need for hot spots such as base stations or access points.  Wi-Fi Direct can be its own access point. For more information about wireless networks and router speeds, click HERE.

If you really want to add to the confusion, there are lots of other wireless technologies, many in evolution, others merged into existing ones.  See, for example,  Mi-Fi, Eye-Fi, WiDi, WiMAX, Wi-Bree, ultra-wideband/ultraband, wireless USB & WiGig.  Also, Li-Fi.  For more about IEEE 802.11n, see WLAN below.  And for the 802.11 network specifications, including frequencies, bandwidth, ranges and data rates, see the Wikipedia entry here.

And shortly, the Wi-Fi wireless audio device, the HUB, which will stream high quality audio to as many as four audio devices (speakers, game consoles, home theatre and the like) by connecting a special wireless dongle to each device, which can be recharged when not in use.  Presently funded by Kickstarter, it should be on the market shortly.

PROTOCOL

YEAR

FREQUENCY

BANDWIDTH

APPROX INDOOR RANGE

APPROX OUTDOOR RANGE

802.11a

1999

5Ghz, 3.7Ghz

20Mhz

115 ft

330ft

802.11b

1999

2.4Ghz

20Mhz

115 ft

460ft

802.11g

2003

2.4Ghz

20Mhz

125 ft

820ft

802.11n

2009

2.4Ghz or 5Ghz

20Mhz

230 ft

 

802.11ac

2012

 

 

 

 

802.11ad

2014

 

 

 

 

802.1af

a/k/a Super Wi-Fi or White-Fi

2014

50Mhz or 700Mhz

Variable - 20Mbps vs. 300-400Mbps for 802.11n

3 - 4 mi

 

802.11ah

2016

 

 

 

 

NOTE:   Generally, the current standard (circa 2014 onward) for wireless routers and other hardware should be at least 802.11n. If you are still using 802.11g or earlier versions, particularly if you have multiple devices connected to the network, you might notice slowdowns or outages.  802.11n’s faster speed will correct that.  And AC. which is becoming more common, is that much better.  For more, click HERE.

Wibree logoWI-BREE:  a/k/a “Baby Bluetooth”.  The original name for Bluetooth Low Energy (“BLE”).  It was named after a fantasy city in Bree-Land in Lord of the Rings.  BLE products use a fraction of the power of classic Bluetooth products (see main definition).  The Wibree designation (and its logo, right), which was named after the first Nokia cell phone which introduced the technology, but was abandoned when other cell phone manufacturers adopted the technology, which became incorporated into Bluetooth 4.0.  While it operates in the same spectrum range as “classic” Bluetooth, it uses a different set of channels and can also be implemented in both single and dual modes so that, while it is not directly backward compatible with classic Bluetooth, it can be accessed.  See Bluetooth for more.

wi-di_logoWi-Di:  Stands for Wireless DisplayAn Intel wireless technology which allows you to beam what you’re watching on your computer (such as movies or web browsing) to your TV.  Somewhat limited in terms of computers (only three are presently available), technology (no DVD or Blu-Ray playbacks), and performance (noticeable lag in web display, some degradation in display and video streaming.).  WiDi II, introduced in 2011 using Intel Core 2011 technology, should solve all of these problems, allowing full 1080 streaming & BluRay.

wi-fi_directlogo (1)Wi-Fi DIRECT:  Click HERE for the discussion above.

wi-fi_boost5G Wi-Fi: Another name  for 802.11ac, discussed above. The designation “stream” (see Broadcomm logo at left), designates it as a MIMO platform (for more see definition below).

5G logo5G Wi-Fi3GPP (see Associations) revealed in early 2017 a logo for 5G wireless as well as rules for vendors and partners looking to use the logo for products and services that will comply for the 3GPP spec in the future.  AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have already started next gen trials of this standard.

wps_logoWPS:   Wi-Fi Protected Setup is a standard for easy and secure wireless setup and connections.  Some router manufacturers have their own names for this (e.g. Netgear calls it “Push ‘n Connect”) but, basically, WPS sets up a random network name (SSID) using either a button, a PIN, NFC or USB to create wireless security for routers and other devices without the necessity of manually entering the information in the setup program.  Problem is, because it’s intended for novices, it’s not all that effective.  And because, if it’s breached, your security can let an attacker into your entire network, like handing a thief the keys to your house.  The best course of action is to disable WPS and then manually configure your router using one of the better encryption protection like WPA (see the discussion under encryption), which isn’t that hard to do if you follow your router manufacturer’s instructions.

WI-FI SENSE: A Wi-Fi connection program first introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, later included in Windows 10, which facilitates connections to Microsoft crowd-sourced open Wi-Fi networks by automatically accepting terms of use, by exchanging W-Fi credentials with Outlook.com, Skype and Facebook accounts. While making it easier to connect, there are, of course, the usual security concerns.

Wi-Fi, Second Wave  (or MU-MIMO [Multi-User, Multiple Input Multiple Output):   An improvement to 802.11ac which extends previous 802.11n SU-MIMO [Single-User MIMO] SU-MIMO allows up to four streams of data to be simultaneously sent and received between a single user and the access point, while MU-MIMO will allow access points to simultaneously send one or more streams to multiple users, which has a much greater impact across the entire network.  In other words, MU-MIMO can send three times the amount of data compared to SU-MIMO in the same amount of time because, while SU-MIMO can only communicate with clients individually, MU-MIMO can allow simultaneous communication with multiple clients. Right now, MU-MIMO works only for the downlink connection (from the access point to a device like a phone or laptop), so the devices will still have to contend with each other when transmitting to the access point itself.  All of this is done without “channel bonding,” that is, combining a 40Mhz band with a 5Mhz band to simultaneously increase data transfer. (MU-MIMO only works in the 5 Mhz band.)  Also unnecessary is the requirement that end-user client devices support the technology or contain multiple antennas, as with MU-MIMO uses the access point to perform the signal processing, not the client.  And, because of the way that data is encoded when sent from an access point prevents other devices, even those connected to the access point, from reading the packet’s actual contents. Mu-MIMO uses beamforming to increase accuracy and speed, i.e. directing a signal toward the intended wireless device rather than randomly in all directions.   And even a MU-MIMO router can’t simultaneously serve unlimited streams or devices and is limited to the four or so currently supported by standard routers.  Also, some standard routers may have MU-MIMO capacity, enabled in firmware from the manufacturer, so check for this capability.  Starting in 2016, we should see more MU-MIMO devices like the Linksys EA8500 router and Acer E-Series laptops.

wi-gig_logo (1)Wi-Gig, a/k/a 802.11ad:  The next step in wireless networking, after 802.11n.  The Wi-Fi Alliance along with the Wireless Gigabit Alliance are working together on this next step for Wi-Fi to develop a new class of tri-band devices which will operate over the 2, 4, 5 and 60Ghz bands to deliver data transfer rates up to 7Gbps (more than 10 times faster than the highest “n” rate) while maintaining compatibility with existing Wi-Fi devices, but with less range.

WI-MAX:  (Pronounced <why max>).  [THIS IS PRETTY MUCH HISTORICAL, SUPERCEDED BY LTE, DISCUSSED BELOW]  Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access is a wireless industry coalition (see Associations), formed in April 2001, whose members (led by Sprint/Nextel) promote the 802.16 wireless specification, which has a range of up to 30 miles and a bandwidth of up to 75bps.  WiMax is an enhancement to WiFi and can be used to provide broadband to an entire city (a/k/a/ “wireless for the masses”), although it can’t match the Wi-Fi speeds.  Unfortunately, the plans announced for municipal Wi-Fi grids for entire cities (i.e. the “Philadelphia” plan, the model for other cities such as Chicago, Miami,  Houston) have effectively been abandoned, as was San Francisco (Google’s attempt) due to technological glitches, high costs, slow speeds and unrealistic ambitions (the ability to be profitable), as the major proponent, Earthlink, has withdrawn its support from the market it had effectively cornered. (NYTimes 3/22/08).  Announced in 2005, Philadelphia’s municipal WiFi grid was to stretch over 135 square miles, with the hope of  bringing free or low-cost service to all residents, especially the poor.  There is also the Meraki (now part of Cisco) network in San Francisco (since discontinued). In May, 2008, vowing to transform “the wireless communications landscape”, Sprint, Nextel and Clearwire, along with a group of investors and partners (Intel, Google, Time Warner, Comcast, Bright House, Trilogo Equity Partners), created a new company called “XOHM” which are to combine their spectrum assets in a national network.  As of August 2009, Sprint Nextel has networks in Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas and Portland Oregon and expects to add 17 more WiMax 4G networks in U.S. cities in 2010, including 10 in Texas alone.   Australia took bids to invest $4.7 billion into a national broadband network.  And, in Japan, Intel has invested $43 million with UQ Communications in an effort to reach 90% of Japan with WiMax service by 2012. 

Although WiMax (now sometimes dubbed “Super WiFi”; see above) has a 2-3 year advantage over competing technologies, specifically the 4G cellular networking system known as Long Term Evolution, or LTE, LTE is now far more common on most smart phones.  But, because Super Wi-Fi antennas are now smaller (the size of a shoebox), can be placed virtually anywhere (e.g. rooftops, street lamps), can go farther because they are much lower frequency (having been co-opted from the old TV stations after they switched to HD signals in 2010), require fewer access points (maybe only one or two instead of 25 to span a large area), are much less expensive (less than $800  each vice a $200,000+ for an ugly cell tower), it’s now far cheaper and easier to span a city with Wi-Fi.  Because Wi-Fi traffic won’t reduce cell tower capacity or older backhaul connections, cell providers welcome the technology. But don’t expect true WiFi bandwidth - it’ll be only about 20Mbps vice the 3-400Mbps of 802.11n, good for phone reception but not streaming video.  Towerstream (NY) is one of the first companies promoting this technology; present tests show 26Mpbs. NOTE that as a result of the landscape corruption of multiplying cell towers, a technology known as “lightRadio” using cell tower boxes as small as a Rubik’s cube is being tested throughout the world.  They would reduce landscape clutter and because of their small size and ability to be placed virtually anywhere (light posts, tops of buildings, signs, etc.) in close proximity to each other, will actually increase reception.  And they can be mixed with large towers as well (“heterogenoeous networks”).

So after almost 10 years, where are we?  Well, in order for a technology to flourish, it has to be adopted by competing carriers, and it hasn’t been.  Instead, most carriers in the U.S. made the move to LTE (“4G”).  For example, Sprint uses time division duplex (“TDD”) to convert the WiMax spectrum to 4G-LTE (which actually uses frequency division duplex (“FDD”).  Sprint has announced that it will close down 6,000 WiMax towers by 2015.  XOHM merged Clearwire and then stalled.  And WiMax phones have been discontinued.  It’s still out there in some areas, but not growing, which makes it unlikely that it will be sustainable in the long run.

For high speed broadband technologies, keep your eye on Google Fibre and Comcast’s Gigabit Pro, discussed further on THIS site page.

Super Wi-Fi (or White-Fi):   802.11afSo named because it utilites the “white space” between the UHF and VHF channels for TV

RELATED “WIs”

BEAMFORMING:  Click HERE for information about this MIMO antenna array technology, where  wireless access points dynamically switch antenna combinations to focus wireless transmissions on a particular wireless client in a home or office network while reducing SNR (“signal-to-noise ratio”) interference, in order to maximize reception for that station.

eye-fi logoEYE-FI: A type of SD memory card that fits into a digital camera that not only stores photos and videos like a standard SD or SDHC memory card, but also allows you to specify where, over a wireless network, you want the data sent (to a computer or the Internet).

HitchHike: A technology for Wi-Fi chips (particularly those in the IoT) which will harvest electromagnetic energy to greatly reduce the need for continual maintenance of billions of installations.  Using only micro-watts of energy, close to zero, and using a harvesting technique called “backscatter” which creates new signals by piggy-backing on ambient radio waves such as those from television and other sources. The devices will be miniscule, have a 50 meter range, will operate at 300 kilobits/second and use virtually no power, so the Iot batteries won’t have to be changed every year as they are now.  Supposedly, this technology is on the edge of being released (December, 2016).

Li-Fi_logo (1)Li-Fi:  Wi-Fi connectivity through a LED light bulb.  Chi Nan, an IT professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, claimed in 2013 that a one watt LED light bulb could provide internet connectivity up to 150Mbps for four computers.  This process was confirmed by Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh in 2011, who actually coined the term “Li-Fi”.  Also known as “visible light communications (“VLC”), a microchipped LED bulb could produce a connection cheaper (by using less electricity) and faster than the average broadband connection, because visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and 10,000 greater than the radio spectrum, affording potentially unlimited capacity.  On the down side, if you block the light, the signal connection will be lost.  But, on the up side, aside from the cost savings, it’s hard to hack a light that can’t pass through walls, so there’s security from hackers.  And the use of hundreds of LEDs to create billboards and indoor lights means that you won’t have to use just one bulb.  For example, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute claimed that it could achieve 3Gbits/s per LED by making a bulb with three colors.  Obviously, this technology is still in its infancy, but it could eventually be a game changer.

Mimo logoMIMO:  Multiple-In, Multiple-Out.  (Pronounced <mee-mow>).  A “smart antenna” technology used in some (but not all) of the N Series and later wireless routers that takes advantage of multiplexing in order to increase wireless bandwidth and range.  The MiMo (“multiple input, multiple output”) algorithms send information out over two or more antennas and receive it over multiple antennas as well.  This, in turn, eliminates the Cliff Effect, caused when the late arrival of part of a broadcast signal causes fading or cut-out of the signal, and also “picket fencing” or intermittent reception.  See also, MISO (“multiple input, single output”) and SIMO (“single input, multiple output”) which are also smart antenna technologies.

MegaMimo:   A “distributed MiMo” technology (Ver. 2.0), scheduled for commercial release in 2016, which claims to allow data to be processed at three times the speed and twice the distance as it traveled previously, according to its MIT developers, because it will be immune to bottleneck-causing interference.  It does this by letting a number of distinct transmitters send same- and similar-frequency data to multiple independent receivers without interfering with each other.  Standard MiMo can be subject to signal interference caused by using the same frequencies in the same session, but MegaMimo eliminates this by using a special algorithm which signal-processes the frequencies in order to use the same piece of spectrum without interference, thus canceling out any crashing signals. So it will be far easier to coordinate multiple access points simultaneously and all on the same frequency without generating the interference normally caused when adjacent and similar frequencies collide with each other, much the same way as two radio stations can’t both transmit on the same frequency in the same area.  MiMo, which is already frequently used by smart phones, routers and other Wi-Fi devices, without the interference caused by “multipath propagation,” i.e. where a signal takes many paths, some of which can cause interference.

MESH Wi-Fi:   For years, most home Wi-Fi users relied on the signal from their cable or DSL box at the point of the service line (where the cable comes in to the house).  But, because the wireless signal is transmitted in an even circle from the modem/router, if it is located near an outside all of the house (rather that the center of the house), half of the signal is transmitted outside and the signal throughout the house will be only half as strong.  Newer home mesh networks are designed to solve this problem.  Systems like  Google Wi-Fi, Netgear Orbi, Eero, Almond 3 and Portal come with several units, each of which can be placed anythere in or outside of your home, effectively blanketing it with a Wi-Fi signal. They’re not particularly inexpensive (at about $300-$500 for three), but are easy to set up and use and are usually self updating (even the firmware). But they can be subject to hacking if not hardened (just like any router), sometimes signal loss can compromise the speed, you may experience some signal hand-off if you wander around your house with your device and may have limited features.

mi-fi_logoMI-FI:  (Pronounced <my fy>).  Wireless computer technology introduced by Verizon in 2009 that lets computer users connect to a 3G high-speed wireless cellular data network anywhere and anytime, using the Novatell MiFi 2200 credit card device and, in 2010, the Pre Plus smart phone.  No seeking a WiFihot spot”; instead you carry a wireless ”umbrella” over you and your devices wherever you go.

PASSPOINT:  A certification (“Release 1”) developed by the WiFi Alliance (see Associations), starting with the 1EEE 802.11u amendment in 2010 (“u” is an extension to the 802.11-2007 standard), which was not initially supported by cell phone vendors.  However, when in 2013, Apple added its support in iOS 7, shortly thereafter Samsung also adopted the certification and then Google added support in Android M and N, momentum was established.  In 2016, the Alliance withdrew Release 1 and substituted Release 2, which is also slowly gaining its own momentum. Passpoint is inspired by the cellular roaming system, where a phone that cannot find a signal from its home carrier automatically seeks out alternative signals (“pre-associated” by other carriers)  and then connects the phone to the best access point.      

WIRELESS CHARGING:   Just like it sounds, this means charging devices like pads and cell phones without plugging them into a electrical wall outlet.  This technology has been developing, from proprietary pads into more robust technology.  Recently, although there is no standard, two competing versions of wireless charging are trying to gain market share.  But each is technologically  incompatible with the other.  Both still manufacture chargers that require users to place the device on a “transmitter,” usually a special charging “mat,” and also require a special “receiver” to be attached to each device to initiate charging, but both developers are working on technology that will permit the devices to be charged faster and at greater distances. 

The first technology, “Qi” (pronounced “cheee”) is promoted by the WPC (see Associations) and the second is promoted by the PMA and the AirFuel Alliance. PMA’s major proponent is Powermat (See FAQ #26 for more about charging cell phone batteries and charge pads), which has supplied the technology which will be used by Starbucks in its charging stations in all of its company-owned stores in the U.S.  Qi has the most wireless charging products and uses inductive charging, while Powermat embraces magnetic resonance and radio frequency charging.  Wireless charging stations will eventually be found iCell Phone charging backn hotel rooms, airport lounges, restaurants and a handful of cars (like several Cadillac, Toyota and Audi models).   Luckily many, but not all, charging stations will accept both types of technology.  But, even if the electricity comes free, I suspect that it may only be a trickle charge, depending on the number of other devices connected to the charging network at that moment as well as other technological limitations.  But the big drawback is that you will have to purchase a wireless receiver for each and every device, usually a special “back” manufactured especially for that device (see photo at right of the back on a Samsung Galaxy S5).  That will make the device heavier and more bulky and, of course, will be more costly.  It may be worth it for some road warriers or teenagers who are high power consumers, but I’m happy with the cigarette lighter in my car and plain old wall outlets or extra batteries.  Again, see FAQ #26 for more options.  UPDATE: the Alliance for Wireless Power (“A4WP”; backed by 140+ companies, including Intel and Samsung) and Power Matters Alliance (Starbucks, McDonalds) have announced that they will merge their two organizations by mid-2015 to create a new organization in order to accelerate the deployment and adoption of wireless charging technology.  The third group, the Wireless Power Consortium (217 members, including Philips, Qualcomm & Nokia), has not announced any plans to join the merger.  2017 UPDATE:  This may be the year for wireless charging.  Apple is hinting that it may be a feature in the iPhone 8, and auto makers are investigating the idea of wireless car charging.  Samsung has already incorporated it in its Galaxy S7 and Note 7 phones.  Dell showed a laptop at 2017 CES which charges wirelessly.  And “inductive charging” is becoming  a popular new form of charging, because you don’t have to lay the phone down on an exact spot, can charge multiple devices with differing power needs and can charge across a few inches and through objects, so it can be located under a table or embedded in other furniture (which Ikea actually offers). But magnetic resonance still offers faster charging over shorter distances.  Some companies like Energous are exploring sending power over radio waves, much like Wi-Fi.

WLAN:   Stands for “Wireless LAN”.   That’s it - stop reading here if you’re not a techie.  For those of us obsessed with technology:  With the explosion of available types of wireless devices and the introduction of IEEE802.11n (with its dual frequency band support, additional channels and MIMO), WLANs have evolved from the consumer-grade arrangements of a simple collection of wireless access points (“APs”) connected over a single spectrum (RFs or Radio Frequencies) into a much more complex architecture.  WLAN “N” architecture falls into two categories:  MCA (Microchannel (or “cell”) and SCA (Single Channel (or “virtual cell”).  Wi-Fi networks typically divide their spectrum into “channels” - 13 in the 2.4Ghz band and 20 on the 5Ghz band.  Using MCA, physically adjacent APs operate on different channels and set power levels so that the signal range doesn’t overlap.  [Overlap can cause co-channel interference due to collision domains, causing signal degradation and interference.]  In contrast, SCA operates every AP on a single channel, typically at higher power levels with overlapping coverage.  This debate may not be particularly significant, since MCA vendors control about 95% of the market, with only two vendors using SCA, not necessarily because of its technological superiority but rather because it mirrors the cellular phone architecture.  Indeed, SCA supporters claim that it is superior because co-channel interference isn’t a concern, signal-to-noise (“SNR” is improved [increasing data rates and reliability], and it leaves other unused channels available for expansion.   A second concern is about data forwarding.  Centralized forwarding provides increased control and security, but can overload the controller and slow down speeds, while distributed forwarding doesn’t increase the controller load as wireless traffic increases, but is difficult to adjust and may require more capacity. Luckily the same system can use both. O.K. folks, there’s room for both of you...

WIRELESS PRINTING: Click HERE for more information about wireless printers.

Wireless USB smallWIRELESS USB:  (Abbreviated “WUSB”) A short-range high-bandwidth wireless radio communication protocol, used mainly for game controllers, printers, digital cameras and similar devices.  Operates much like Bluetooth, sending a signal of 480Mbits/s up to 10 ft or 110Mbits/s up to 33 ft.  See USB.

RELATED:  See also, Zigbee, Dash7.

Click HERE for more about wireless network issues...

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