Wi-Fi is a relatively new type of technology that is just starting to attract a wide following worldwide. Some consider it to be one of the most significant innovations in technology since the internet came to the mainstream.
Because of it, computers are now able to connect to the internet and to other computers wirelessly.

The precursor of today’s Wi-Fi was developed sometime in the early 1990s by the Netherlands-based company NCR Corporation/AT&T (which later became known as Lucent &
Agere Systems). Called WaveLAN, it was originally intended to be used in cash registers.

Several competing standards prevented the immediate success of having wireless networks. However, with the development of the IEEE 802.11 standard and the release of its first
protocol in 1997, this technology slowly but surely came into the mainstream.

Since then, several protocols were released and several more will be released to address issues such as range and speed.
The first protocol released in 1997, now known as the Legacy mode, operated in the 2.4 GHz frequency.

The throughput and data rate are slow by today’s standards, with only 0.9 and 2 Mbit/s, respectively. 802.11 a and b came two years later in 1999 with the a protocol offering
faster speeds while the b provided a wider range. The elements of the two were later merged in 2003 when the 802.11g protocol was released.

The new protocol offered the speed of the a and the range of the b.

Vic Hayes who is the inventor of Wi-Fi has been named 'father of Wi-Fi' and was with his team involved in designing standards such as IEEE 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g. In 2003, Vic retired from Agere Systems. Agere Systems suffered from strong competition in the market even though their products were cutting edge, as many opted for cheaper Wi-Fi solutions. Agere's 802.11abg all-in-one chipset (code named: WARP) never hit the market, Agere Systems decided to quit the Wi-Fi market in late 2004.

  • Wi-Fi Hotspots

Another jargon in the wireless LAN community is called the Wi-Fi hotspot, simply known as hotspot. A hotspot is any public area that offers free or paid wireless internet connection.

Some of them cover only a small area (e.g. hotel lobbies),while there are those that cover an entire city (e.g.municipal hotspots).

While having hotspots has made cheap and even free internet connection possible, there are also security issues that accompany this technology.

Some hotspots are intentionally or unintentionally unsecured so that any data sent over the network is unencrypted. Because of this, malicious users can sniff (i.e. monitor) data sent by others who are in the same network.

But several solutions such as having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) are available, although they not widely used because of the costs of implementing them.

  • Where to Find Wi-Fi Hotspots

The Wi-Fi hotspot is nothing short of a phenomenon for wireless computing. Since it made the internet publicly available, this technology enabled laptops to be truly mobile computers. While not every country has picked up on this technology yet, there are several major cities and areas in the world where it has been adapted.

Below is a list of some of the typical places where you can find Wi-Fi hotspots.

1. Coffee shops
- have gained popularity as places where people can meet and have a good cup of coffee.But today, coffee shops have now also become hubs for internet users. The good thing here is that, they offer free and unlimited internet connection to their patrons usually by just making a minimum purchase.

2. Hotels
- more and more hotels offer this service which is mainly geared towards business travellers. They can be accessed in hotel rooms and lobbies. The only downside here is that they are usually paid separately from the room rates and can be quite expensive.

3. Airports - Wi-Fi hotspots can now be found in major international airports. This is also mainly geared towards business travellers who may want to check their e-mail just before boardingthe plane.

While hotspots are great places to get free internet connection, people should also be aware that most of them are unsecure.

It means that the data that anyone sends through the network may be read by hackers and could be used for criminal activities such as identity theft.

Users can protect themselves by not visiting websites that require sensitive information when connected to unsecure networks.


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