A wireless network, as its name would suggest, is a network of computers and computer peripherals that are connected to each other without wires. This enables ease of communication, especially for mobile computing platforms. Further, there are a number of other advantages to a wireless network that make them increasingly common in both the workplace and at home.
Nearly all wireless networks in the world work on a standard set up by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers known as the 802.11 standard. Depending on the technology involved, there are subsections. These are usually listed on the packaging of the accompanying material that given the user an idea of the speed and extent of the technology a unit possesses.
For example, when looking at a wireless router, which is what enables communication between different computers on a network, it may be marked as an 802.11(b). Many of the routers, when wireless networking technology first become popular, carried this designation. Due to the age of the technology, it is cheaper than what is currently available but can still be used. It has a maximum transfer rate of 11 megabits per second (Mbps).
Since that technology has come on the market, other wireless network standards have also been introduced. These include 802.11(g) and 802.11(n). Each, respectively represents a subsequent generation of technology. The (g) standard increased range and speed, allowing for up to 54 Mbps. The (n) standard not only allows for a good range and even greater speeds, but also is better capable of resisting interference from other wireless sources. All 802.11 standards use radio signals for communication.
In addition to these sources, which are used in more limited geographical areas, WiMax is another types of wireless network. This type of network depends on line of sight, but as long as the view is not obstructed it can stretch out over hundreds of miles or kilometers. However, this technology depends on a larger antenna and converter in order to make communication possible. Even if data is transported over a WiMax network, it may still pass through a 802.11 standard network before reaching a computer workstation.
Bluetooth™, although not truly considered a wireless network type of technology, does meet that definition. However, this type of wireless technology is very limited and very slow, not making it very practical in most cases. However, some handheld computers, along with cell phones, may use this technology for a very limited number of tasks.