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What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity, and is a wireless network protocol. Wi-Fi is becoming a prevalent way to connect to networks and the Internet. Wi-Fi usually refers to an 11 Mbps protocol (a protocol is a defined way to communicate electronically) called 802.11b. 11 Mbps is about as fast as 10 Mbps Ethernet, and about one-tenth as fast as 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet. Wireless often seems slower than Ethernet. 802.11b operates at the 2.4 GHz frequency range, which can conflict with other devices such as walkie-talkies and microwave ovens.

Other options for wireless networking include 802.11a and 802.11g. See Table 10.1 for the differences between each protocol.


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