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
Wi-Fi is a global set of
standards. Unlike cellular carriers, the same Wi-Fi client works in
different countries around the world.
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
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.
between brands or deviations in the standard can cause limited connection or
lower throughput speeds.
A wireless network can
provide a way to stream music files from computer to computer or even to
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.