Humanity is connected like never before, through data. The Information Age is in full swing and it’s rapid change and adoption is literally rocking the foundations of the World as we once knew it. In this article I explore one of the cornerstones of this spread of information, the wireless network and what it might mean for all of us.
What is a Network?
In classic computer terms a network is something by which a bunch of computers are hooked together so they can share things. These “things” may be a connection to the internet, a printer or scanner, maybe also data like document and picture files. Now days these “computers” can come in many forms, the classic desktop PC, a laptop or notebook, a tablet or pad, your phone, television and even your watch are all computer devices that can connect to a network.
What is a Wireless Network?
A wireless network is where devices use radio waves to connect to a network. In Dubbo many people on the outskirts of the city can connect to the internet via wireless provided by the new National Broadband Network "NBN". You can connect to a business's wireless network if they provide a “WiFi hotspot” like many cafes, hotels and airport lounges do. You can connect to a local area network (LAN) that is set up at your home or place of work.
Wired vs Wireless
Traditionally computers were networked with each other using cables. This still happens in many instances where large amounts of data are required to be transferred through the network. Once there was a large difference between wired and wireless, speed for one and security for another. The gap has rapidly closed however and the difference will close further with continued enhancements made to wireless technology.
Why go Wireless?
It's easy. No more need to run cable everywhere you need a connection. I for one will not miss crawling through dusty, hot confined roof spaces to run wires.
Coverage - go mobile. With wire you are tied to that wall socket, now you can drag your tablet into the back yard or someone else's office and stay connected.
Expand. With WiFi range extenders and bridges you extend a wireless from your office to the poolside and even your office across town.
Cost. Don’t like running cables? Neither do electricians so they will charge you well for the pleasure. A wireless network can be set up with one relatively cheap device.
How do I go Wireless at home?
A typical wireless network in a home would look like this:
Generally these day the Modem, Router, Wireless Access Point (and Firewall) are combined into one unit.
Wireless used to be a rarity. I recall wandering around years ago with a laptop connecting to WiFi all over the place for free. It was easy because wireless technology was so rare that no one bothered with protecting their connections with passwords, so you could just log on and off you went. These were mainly big businesses however and home wireless was almost non existent. Now, you can search wireless in your average neighborhood in Dubbo and get dozens of WiFi units within reasonable range.
The future is here, with smart phones and pads even Dick Tracey style watches and glasses all capable of becoming “connected”. Two of the world's most flamboyant entrepreneurs, Richard Branson and Elon Musk are currently in a space race to provide the whole world with wireless internet via low earth orbit satellite. No more cables, wires or even fibre. Great news for those folk in remote areas. Wireless is here and won’t be going anywhere soon. Are you ready to get “connected”?
Top photo credit : thierryvilaysith
Mid photo credit : Coastline Windows & Conservatories