What is WiFi and how does it work?

 

WiFi is a wireless network that uses radio frequencies to connect devices to the internet, in lieu of network cables. Computers and wireless access points (WAP) pass data back and forth using wireless transmitters and receivers. The WAP is then connected to the internet via a network cable.  So instead of a dedicated cable from your device to the internet, you share a connection with lots of other devices using the same wireless access point and cable.




This isn't 20 devices connected directly to the internet, this is 20 devices sharing one or two connections to the internet at the same time.  The WAP manages the traffic by communicating with each device for a millisecond at a time. Think of it as the WAP giving each device a split-second connection to the internet and then moving to the next device.  In most cases, the transmission rate is fast enough to make it appear to be happening in real-time.


The Pros and Cons of WiFi


WiFi allows freedom from a hard-wired connection.  When the system is well-engineered, deployed properly, and managed correctly the outcome can be very effective.


Unfortunately, there are several things that can have a negative impact on your connection and slow down the transmissions, like, too many devices connected, fewer devices connected but all streaming HD content, the distance between your device and the WAP, and the bandwidth capacity of the WAP and the devices connected to it.  


Things you can do to increase the performance of your device using WiFi.

  1. Connect to the closest WAP.  When you first connect to a wireless network your device will connect to the closest WAP with the strongest signal.  When you move, your device will hold onto the WAP it is connected to even if there is a closer/stronger signal available. So, when you move from one room to the next disconnect and reconnect your WiFi to force it to the strongest WAP available.
  2. Keep your device and applications up to date.  Out-of-date systems and applications can cause performance problems.  
  3. Be mindful of your environment and what actions you are performing on your device.  Streaming video during high traffic times may negatively impact your experience and the experience of others on the network.  Remember - to share nicely.
  4. Use wired connections for old devices with out-of-date wireless transmitters. In most cases, the speed that the WAP communicates with all of the connected devices is slowed to the speed of the slowest device.  That old laptop may be slowing down the WiFi for everyone.


How to disconnect and reconnect WiFi on your laptop or Chromebook


     

 

  Your device may have a function button with this icon. Press it to enable/disable WiFi




OR



        

Navigate to the Windows toolbar on the bottom of your

screen and click on the WiFi icon.