4 min read

5 things you didn’t know about WiFi

On a list of ‘Things We Need to Exist’, WiFi takes the cake. But even though there are now 4 billion WiFi enabled devices in use worldwide, what people know about WiFi could be improved. So, what do you need to know about WiFi? Read on to find out.

What is WiFi?

Let’s start with the basics.

WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to transfer information from one electronic device to the other. It’s what makes it possible for your computer to access the internet without cables.

Ok, so that part, most of us know. Below are 5 things we bet you didn’t know about WiFi.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About WiFi

#1 WiFi is very susceptible to interference

Maybe you already knew this one intuitively. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to stream a video that keeps buffering.

The drop in your signal strength could be caused by interference. WiFi uses radio waves to send a signal, which can go through walls, but often bump paths with other radio waves at similar frequencies.

As we said before, with 4 billion WiFi devices in use, the problem with interference is on the rise. That includes devices like WiFi enabled TVs, cameras, and even baby monitors.

Other devices that can cause some issues are bluetooth devices, like your wireless mouse/keyboard. This tends to be a greater problem for WiFi using 2.4 GHz, but even 5 GHz WiFi is vulnerable to interference.

#2 The best WiFi blocker is YOU

Water is a great signal blocker. Seeing as you’re made up of about 75% water, if you’re sitting between your router and your computer, your body can significantly lower the strength of your WiFi signal.

That’s why you should always try to place your router so that it’s closest to the devices that need internet access and so you’re not blocking the signal. We’d recommend placing your router above head level. In an office setting, the center of the room is ideal.

#3 WiFi is not the same as internet

This one might blow your mind a little, because we all automatically associate WiFi with internet. But the fact is they’re two different things.

The internet is a giant network made up of tons of smaller, local networks. And a router can give your devices access to this giant network (like a floodgate). Even without a router, you can still have a local network – whether cabled or wireless, via WiFi – that connects your devices without access to the internet.

A local network, for example, could include your router, your computer, and your wireless printer. Your computer can send a PDF to the printer via a WiFi connection. It’s also what makes it possible to stream content from a computer to a TV using Airtame’s wireless HDMI device. And all without internet!

#4 5 GHz is faster but 2.4 GHz reaches farther

There’s a lot of talk about 5 GHz being better than 2.4 GHz, both because it’s faster and encounters less interference from other devices. While that may be true, the fact is 2.4 GHz reaches farther, because physics.

Let’s break it down: lower frequencies, like 2.4 GHz, can penetrate solid objects better than higher frequencies. That means with 2.4 GHz, data can travel farther. However, a higher frequency, like 5GHz, can transmit your data faster, although it does not have a very far range.

#5 A powerful router doesn’t always equal better WiFi

Having a powerful router doesn’t guarantee a better WiFi connection. If you’re trying to cover a large area, even the most beefed up routers have to deal with interference from other devices. Not to mention, walls and other objects can weaken the signal.

To get better WiFi, you could be better off with two less powerful routers placed at separate locations in the building, rather than one really powerful one. It’s all about minimizing the distance between your router and the devices that need internet access.

WiFi is a part of our daily lives and will be for the foreseeable future, so it’s about time we learn a bit more about how networks work.

How did you score out of 5? Did you already know all these 5 things about WiFi? Let us know if you can think of any more in the comments or on Twitter: @airtame.

What’s next? Check out our article on the 12 questions to ask yourself before buying a wireless streaming device
Jessica Navarro