Wireless broadband, otherwise known as wireless Internet, allows men and women with certain wireless-capable devices to have access to the Internet without a physical connection. The most popular devices used for wireless broadband are laptops/netbooks and PDAs, though some televisions, Blu-ray players, video game systems, and other entertainment devices are also able to use these connections. The receiver used to detect a wireless signal may be internal to the device or it might be necessary to purchase an external device such as a wireless PC card or a USB wireless adapter.
Multiple wireless protocols have been standardized by IEEE. The most common one in use today is 802.11g, which can transmit data up to 54 Mbits per second and has an indoor range of up to 125 ft. 802.11g operates on a frequency of 2.4 GHz. 802.11b, the predecessor of 802.11g, has an identical indoor range and uses the same frequency, but its maximum data transfer rate is 11 Mbits per second.
Many receivers that detect 802.11g can also detect 802.11b. The newest wireless protocol is 802.11n. Most of the 802.11n receivers are also backwards compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g. The major difference between 802.11n and previous standards is the use of multiple antennas to improve performance. It can operate on two different frequencies, has a data transfer rate of up to 125 Mbits per second, and has an indoor range of up to 230 ft.
For home users, wireless broadband is typically accessed by using a broadband modem that can wirelessly transmit data to and from a physical Internet connection. When purchasing broadband Internet access through a service provider, this type of modem may be offered. Otherwise, it must be purchased separately. Another common method is to combine a traditional broadband modem with a wireless router. To extend indoor or outdoor signal range, some users also install wireless access points.
Wireless broadband is becoming increasingly more available to men and women on the go. Public places like book stores, coffee shops, and libraries might offer free or fee-based wireless broadband access to their patrons. These places are commonly known as “wireless hotspots.” Universities, colleges, and major airports are almost certain to offer wireless broadband. Some cellular service providers that offer 3G network access also allow customers to use the network for other devices, such as laptops. A cell phone is used as a wireless modem or users can buy a separate PC card or USB modem. The speed of this type of connection is usually in the range of 300 kbits per second.