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Pro and Cons of WiFi

 

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Advantages of Wi-Fi

  • Allows LANs to be deployed without cabling, potentially reducing the costs of network deployment and expansion. Spaces where cables cannot be run, such as outdoor areas and historical buildings, can host wireless LANs.

  • Wi-Fi products are widely available in the market. Different brands of access points and client network interfaces are interoperable at a basic level of service.

  • Wi-Fi networks support roaming, in which a mobile client station such as a laptop computer can move from one access point to another as the user moves around a building or area.

  • Wi-Fi is a global set of standards. Unlike cellular carriers, the same Wi-Fi client works in different countries around the world.

Disadvantages of Wi-Fi

  • Spectrum assignments and operational limitations are not consistent worldwide; most of Europe allows for an additional 2 channels beyond those permitted in the US; Japan has one more on top of that - and some countries, like Spain, prohibit use of the lower-numbered channels. Furthermore some countries, such as Italy, used to require a 'general authorization' for any Wi-Fi used outside an operator's own premises, or require something akin to an operator registration.

  • Power consumption is fairly high compared to some other standards, making battery life and heat a concern.

  • The most common wireless encryption standard, Wired Equivalent Privacy or WEP, has been shown to be breakable even when correctly configured (caused by weak-key generation). Although most of the newer wireless products support the much improved Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) protocol, many first-generation access points cannot be upgraded in the field and have to be replaced to support it. The adoption of the 802.11i (aka WPA2) standard in June 2004 makes available a still further improved security scheme, which is becoming available on the latest equipment. Both schemes require stronger passwords in personal mode than most users typically employ. Many enterprises have deployed additional layers of encryption (such as VPNs) to protect against interception.

  • Wi-Fi networks have limited range. A typical Wi-Fi home router using 802.11b or 802.11g might have a range of 45 m (150 ft) indoors and 90 m (300 ft) outdoors. Range also varies with frequency band, as Wi-Fi is no exception to the physics of radio wave propagation. Wi-Fi in the 2.4 GHz frequency block has better range than Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz frequency block, and less range than the oldest Wi-Fi (and pre-Wi-Fi) 900 MHz block.

  • Interference of a closed or encrypted access point with other open access points on the same or a neighboring channel can prevent access to the open access points by others in the area. This can pose a problem in high-density areas such as large apartment buildings where many residents are operating Wi-Fi access points.

  • Access points could be used to steal personal information transmitted from Wi-Fi users.

  • Interoperability issues between brands or deviations in the standard can cause limited connection or lower throughput speeds.

Wi-Fi Entertainment and Gaming

  • A wireless network can provide a way to stream music files from computer to computer or even to your stereo.

  • Similarly, digital pictures and videos can be streamed from a computer to a network attached computer monitor or television set.

  • Wi-Fi is compatible with gaming consoles and handhelds, allowing online play at any access point.

  • The Sony PSP comes with WLAN which can be turned on by the switch of a button to connect to WI-FI hotspots or wireless connections.  PlayStation II can be connected with the purchase of an additional accessory, and PS3 will have wireless networking support built in.

  • The X-Box 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3 includes built-in wireless connectivity.


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