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Curiosities and anecdotes about WiFi: beyond the immediate connection

Curiosities and anecdotes about WiFi: beyond the immediate connection

Nowadays, connect to the internet it is practically synonymous with doing it to a WiFi point, with the permission of mobile connectivity. WiFi has been responsible for making the Internet available beyond a mere Ethernet cable. For years we have been able to connect dozens of devices to the Internet through the WiFi of, for example, your Movistar Router.

But although WiFi is a technology that we use daily and at all hourswhich we created almost magically from our Router, not everyone knows its origin or some of the curiosities of WiFi that make it not only a useful tool but also a fascinating story to read and to tell anyone.

Previously we have dealt with several of the most widespread myths about WiFi. And we have also talked about its most recent version, WiFi 6. Next, we talk about what WiFi means and we list some of its curiosities and anecdotes.

We cannot talk about curiosities without knowing what WiFi means

Wikipedia says that the wireless connection we know as WiFi was born from the union of several companies in the communications sector. In 1999, iconic names like 3Com, Lucent, Nokia or Symbol Technologies create the WECAacronym for Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, or in Spanish, Alliance for the Compatibility of a Wireless Ethernet.

As its name suggests, they wanted to create a wireless technology that would allow devices to be connected no wires needed. In April 2000 they will launch their first version of this technology, which we will all know under the name Wifi and that at a technical level was called IEEE 802.11b. An industry standard that would change everything.

However, to get there, others had to do some of the work. As with many important inventions, there is no single person responsible. And if we talk about WiFi curiosities, the name of Hedy LamarrHollywood actress who participated in more than 30 titles and who in 1942 patented together with the composer George Antheil a signal modulation technique. Originally it was meant to be a secret communication system for use in times of war, but it laid the foundation for wireless technologies as popular today as Bluetooth and Wifi.

In 1971, the University of Hawaii implements this technology to connect a computer network, ALOHAnet. Hawaii is an archipelago, so connecting its islands by cables is very complicated. With this project, they managed to send data packets through UHF waves, laying the foundations for technologies such as Ethernet and Wifi.

Finally, in 1991, NCR and AT&T created a technology called WaveLAN designed to communicate with ATMs without cables. From here arise the bases of the protocol that we will know technically as IEEE 802.11.

Who owns this wireless connection

Patents attest to whose owner or owner of a technology. They may be in the hands of individuals or companies or academic or public institutions.

In order to standardize WiFi wireless connection, the WECA, which was renamed WiFi Alliance or Wi Fi Alliance, is in charge of defining how WiFi works and defining its standard, what we know as IEEE 802.11.

Hence, the patents associated with this technology are owned by the WiFi Alliancewithin which practically all the companies directly or indirectly related to this wireless connection are represented.

A gibberish of letters and numbers

We have said several times that what we all call Wifi it is technically known as IEEE 802.11. IEEE is the acronym for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an international organization that defines and certifies technologies such as WiFi itself.

For years, Wi Fi wireless connection has been evolving to offer ever increasing speeds and other functions, such as maintaining a homogeneous connection, managing more devices at the same time, etc. Thus, the first WiFi was called IEEE802.11b and the following were adding the letters of the alphabet.

In the past, the most popular versions were IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, and also IEEE 802.11n. Over time, the nomenclature became even more confusing with IEEE 802.11ac and eventually IEEE 802.11ax.

To solve this gibberish, it was decided to rename the WiFi with a clearer numbering. What we technically know as IEEE802.11ac is today Wi Fi 5. And the most recent version, IEEE802.11axwe know it popularly by WiFi 6. In the data sheet of an iPhone 12, to give a recent example, it indicates that it is compatible with “Wifi 802.11ax (6th gen.)”.

WiFi everywhere

WiFi technology is literally everywhere. Not only your computer or your smartphone They can be connected via Wi Fi. We have also found this wireless technology in televisions, game consoles, smart watches and braceletsloudspeakers and stereos, alarm clocks, household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators or ovens, and what about appliances such as robot vacuum cleanerswireless cameras and even indoor and outdoor light bulbs and lighting systems.

And what about the smart speakers, which act as radio sets, personal assistants and much more. But the list of devices, gadgets and tools with WiFi does not stop growing until unimaginable limits.

For example, for years, a popular brand of water jugs with filters has versions with integrated WiFi. There are also toasters with WiFi, automatic coffee machines with WiFi and what about the scales and electric toothbrushes with a wireless connection that transmit your data to your phone through an app.

speed records

Within the curiosities of WiFi, we have talked about its different names. For the average user, WiFi has always been WiFi, but internally, this technology has been improving over the years. To begin with, the bandwidth used by the WiFi signal has been 2.4GHz until the arrival of the most recent versions, which use 5GHz.

The first version of WiFi reached 11Mbit/sincreasing to 54Mbit/s (IEEE 802.11g) and 300Mbit/s (IEEE 802.11n). With the leap in bandwidth, the latest WiFi technologies have raised the bar. Wi Fi 5 (IEEE 802.11ac) reaches speeds between 800Mbps and 1.73 Gbps. For its part, WiFi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax) reaches the 2.4 Gbps.

A family of technologies

Although WiFi technology is the most popular, in its family tree we find other wireless technologies that we also find in many devices. Two of them are Bluetooth and ZigBee.

Now that we know what WiFi means, what we know as Bluetooth receives the technical or standard name IEEE802.15.1. Similar to Wi Fi, its range and data transmission speed are lower, making it a good alternative to connect peripherals or wireless devices short distance Interestingly, both WiFi and Bluetooth use the 2.4 GHz bandwidth.

We found the Bluetooth in a multitude of peripherals such as speakers, headphones, mice and trackpads, keyboards, etc.

For its part, ZigBee it also belongs to the WiFi family tree. Its standard is IEEE802.15.4 and also takes advantage of the 2.4 GHz bandwidth. Although it is not as popular as the Bluetooth standard, little by little it has been able to enter home automation devices such as sensors, smart bulbs and plugs, wireless controllers…