What are a few things we can’t live without? Food, water, ….wifi? As funny as it sounds, a home without wifi is almost an uninhabitable place - a place where no one can find enjoyment. A living space that is no longer a safe haven from having to use your phone’s data plan, a space devoid of Netflix, gaming, many smart home devices, and overall advancement of human life.
All jokes aside, no one likes when their wifi is out. It truly makes you realize what a commodity wireless internet, or even just an internet connection, is and how much we’ve really become accustomed to living with it. Do we take for granted this amazing thing that connects us with people around the world in the blink of an eye? Here’s a few things you might not have known about this wonder invention you’re using right now.
True wireless internet was introduced just before the turn of the century
While wifi had ideological predecessors as early as the 1970s, true wireless internet came about when the first iteration of IEEE 802.11 came into existence. IEEE 802.11, what would eventually become known as “Wi-Fi”, are the rules and codes that define and control the wireless communications between technology. Without these, home wifi networks (and our digital society as we know it) would never exist.
So how exactly do our wireless devices communicate with one another using these protocols?
Wifi seems like magic, but it can be explained with science you already know
Radio waves, frequencies, signals - all things you would associate with sound, right? Not necessarily.
It may surprise you, but your wireless devices communicate with your router (and vice versa) by sending data via radio waves. Your router is in charge of translating these radio waves back into data that can be sent to and received back from the Internet.
What do frequencies have to do with wifi you ask? By definition, a frequency is known as ‘the rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, whether that be material (sound) or electromagnetic (such as radio waves and light). Since wifi signals are broadcasted as radio waves, the data must be transmitted on particular frequency bands - 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.
Why is this important? The higher the frequency, the more data the signal is able to transmit. However, it’s also important to note that this also comes at a price: with more data capacity and wifi “speed” capabilities, the shorter the signal range becomes.
Like most technology, wifi has changed and evolved over the years
Don't worry, Pikachu doesn't have to evolve like wifi
Wifi isn’t even close to the same as it was when it first came on the scene boasting a measly 2 - 11 Mbps. With each evolution in standards, wifi typically has gained faster speeds and larger coverage areas. Here’s a quick timeline:
1999 - 2002
802.11a and 802.11b were the first advancements in wifi standards. Using the 2.4 GHz frequency band, 802.11b featured a faster max data rate of 11 Mbps and. Although this data rate is much slower than 802.11a’s potential max of 54 Mbps, it was much more popular for consumers as the routers and devices were cheaper.
802.11g was introduced to the world and gave wireless internet users a big jump in capability. It served to somewhat combine the features of 802.11a and 802.11b - it had the higher maximum data rate of 54 Mbps, but still operated on 2.4 GHz channel. This proved to deliver a huge advancement in both wifi speeds and coverage area.
Wifi advanced even further with the advent of 802.11n, a wifi standard that operates on both 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. With even more advanced speed and reliability, 802.11m offers a potential max data rate of 300 Mbps, and this can be increased even higher up to 450 Mbps when using a more advanced router. This new standard utilized MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) which allowed router antennae the ability to both send and receive simultaneously, a feature that grants faster speeds without having to make the sacrifices its predecessors had to.
Here comes the heavyweight: 802.11ac. This powerhouse of wifi brought about speeds never imagined before, from 400+ Mbps up to potentially multiple Giga-bps (!). By transmitting only along the 5 GHz frequency and utilizing beamforming technology, 802.11ac routers provide connected devices with a powerfully direct connection that other wifi standards are incapable of.
Wifi is the backbone of the smart home
As we continue to advance through the digital age, wireless internet is becoming something more noticed when it isn’t there rather than when it is. More and more technology is springing up every day that allows for stronger ease of living and automation of what used to be. No longer is wifi just used for checking email or browsing the web. We are in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) -- connected home security systems, doorbells, thermostats, virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, smart appliances, the list just goes on and on.
While it’s true that wifi may not always be the best option for every single smart home device because of range issues, it truly does act as the lifeblood or backbone of any smart home. This is why wifi systems like Milo are so crucial for users of smart home products. By providing additional wifi coverage area, Milo allows your smart home devices to access your network and provide you the flexibility of placing them where you like.
Been searching for reliable wireless internet coverage all throughout your home? The solution is Milo -- an affordable hybrid mesh network wifi system that brings you wifi wherever you need it, without breaking the bank.