WiFi needs little introduction. We all use it, our country runs on it. Despite it being so important it’s not well understood by the wider community.
WiFi is a short-range wireless network designed to connect devices to each other within a building or any other kind of area. WiFi devices connect with each other using an Access Point, which is a small box broadcasting the wireless signal to a distance of about 50 to 400 metres depending on walls, trees, and obstructions. Due to strict EIRP limits it is not possible to broadcast beyond about 400 metres, no matter the equipment used.
All WiFi devices around the world follow the same set of international standards developed by a committee known as IEEE. This means devices from one part of the world will work on networks in any other country.
These international standards are defined in IEEE 802.11, with each possible type of WiFi network given a corresponding letter. The earliest WiFi standards, such as 802.11a and 802.11b were quite slow and difficult to use, but as time and technology progressed WiFi became faster and more flexible.
The latest 802.11ax standard, known as WiFi-6, represents a significant leap forward in functionality with not only faster speeds but a number of roaming, meshing, and bandsteering technologies integrated as out-of-the-box features.
Despite these advances large WiFi deployments remain very complex to get right. As WiFi operates on public-use spectrum, networks that are close to one another will be in competition with each other. Likewise, multiple access points installed within one building are also in competition with each other. This means the design and planning processes are critical to creating high performance WiFi networks.