Showing posts with label WiFi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WiFi. Show all posts

Mar 8, 2019

MiFi vs. WiFi vs. Mobile Hotspot

MiFi is actually a brand name used for a portable broadband device that allows multiple end users and mobile devices to share a 3G or 4G mobile broadband internet connection and create an ad hoc network (mobile hotspot). Novatel Wireless owns a registered trademark on the “MiFi” brand name in many countries, but the term is used generically, like Kleenex. It is a bit expensive, but you can think of it as carrying around an internet connection in your pocket. Many think these will be used to connect non-5G devices to the coming 5G network.

A MiFi box is great to have if you are in an area with no internet access. Most devices are about two by four inches. Depending on carrier, there may be an additional monthly fee to your phone bill. Some devices have their own connection that you can pay for by the day. MiFi boxes prices range from about thirty to a few hundred US dollars onetime cost.

WiFi is a wireless networking standard that various devices, such as smartphones, TVs, computers, etc., use to communicate with each other or the internet without actual wires connecting them. Smart TVs use WiFi to connect to the internet to provide streaming, like Netflix, Amazon Video, and more.
A mobile hotspot is created by a portable device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or MiFi box that provide wireless or Ethernet internet access for many devices including laptops, other smartphones, computers, etc. One way to think of it is as a compact, battery powered WiFi station that taps into cellular networks like a smartphone does and then wirelessly shares its data connection with other WiFi enabled devices.
Mobile hotspots eliminate the worry of conducting business or personal work over an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection, and mobile hotspots often have faster connection speeds than public Wi-Fi. I have a friend who uses his phone to create a hotspot so he can watch streaming TV on his laptop while riding (not driving) in his car.

Bottom line, MiFi and Hotspot are devices with a wireless connection that other devices can connect to using WiFi. WiFi is a standard of communication.

Feb 8, 2019

5ghz vs. 2.4ghz

WiFi comes in two flavors 5ghz and 2.4ghz, but many do not know the difference.

2.4ghz travels father and penetrates walls and other objects better but is not as fast as 5ghz. Many more devices use the 2.4 ghz band, like baby monitors, RC toys, and Xbox controllers.

5 ghz has higher speed, shorter range, and lower penetration through walls and obstacles. It also allows for more throughput.

Bottom line, if your device is close to the router or the router is in the open rather than hiding in a niche of your house, 5 ghz is better.

Incidentally, 5ghz should not be confused with the new phone 5G and 5G LTE networks, which use much higher frequencies in the 30 ghz to 300 ghz range. It has the potential to be 20 times faster than 4G, meaning you can download things 20 times faster or download more data in less time.

Oct 13, 2018

What's in a Name, WiFi

Finally the tech industry does something to make our life easier. Instead of the current WiFi being called 802.11ac, it will soon be called WiFi 5, because it is the fifth version.

Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (1999)
Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (1999)
Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (2019)

Instead of wondering whether “ac” is better than “n” you will be able to look at the number. WiFi 5 is higher than WiFi 4, so it is newer. WiFi networks have always worked together, so WiFi 5 devices should be backward compatible and connect with WiFi 4 devices.

Because the WiFi Alliance represents just about every major company that makes any kind of product with WiFi in it, its actions usually reflect what the industry wants. So presumably, tech companies agree with the branding change and will start to advertise it this way.


The WiFi Alliance even wants to see this branding go beyond hardware. So in the future when you connect to a WiFi network on your phone or laptop, your device will tell you what WiFi version you are connected to, so if two networks are available, one showing “4” and the other “5” you can choose the newer option.

May 11, 2018

Smartphone Cell vs. WiFi Data

Many people do not know the difference between WiFi data and cell data (LTE, 4G). WiFi allows your phone or tablet to connect to the Internet via a router. You need to be to be in the range of a router and connect to the network in order to access the Internet. Cellular data allows your phone or tablet to connect to the Internet via a cell phone signal. You need to be in the range of a cell phone tower to access the Internet. When you use your phone to access the Internet without WiFi, you are using up the monthly allotment of data your cell phone plan allows. Another important distinction to know, especially for the security conscious, cell data is encrypted so it is safer than public Wi-Fi.

Think of two types of data, background data is data that is used behind the scenes by apps and the operating system (iOS, Android, etc.). This can also include data from actions you are aware of such as downloading email messages. Apps on your phone use background data even when you are not using the app. You can individually turn off background data for apps, such as Chrome, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat when you are not using them. If you do not have an unlimited plan it is very advantageous to turn off background data. It will turn back on automatically when you use the app and off again when you close it.

Foreground data is data that you deliberately use, such as streaming videos, derping the internet, downloading a new app, etc. This is where WiFi comes in handy if you do not have an unlimited data plan. Also, WiFi is often faster, under the right conditions.

However, WiFi drains the battery quicker. It works by sending and receiving a microwave radio signal through the air to a Wireless Access Point. Radio waves are essentially electricity from your battery that has been converted into a specific frequency, and pushed out of your device through an antenna. Ideally, you might set your WiFi to be off all the time, then turn it on when you are home using your WiFi, or when you are out and want to download large amounts of data, such as a movie or Facebook video.

If you spend more time connected to WiFi networks than cellular, leave your WiFi turned on. If not, it is advantageous to keep it turned off and save your battery. If you travel internationally, use WiFi to avoid expensive charges for international roaming.

Bottom line, if you have an unlimited data plan, the difference between WiFi and cell data is battery usage. If you do not have unlimited data, then the difference can be costly from overage charges, if you exceed your limit. Both are automatically available on smartphones.

Other may have caught on to this battery saver idea as OpenSignal analyzed a 90-day period beginning on Dec. 1, 2017 and found the time spent on WiFi dropped for three of the four major U.S. carriers compared to the first quarter of 2017, due to the growth in unlimited data plans.


Incidentally, on an Android phone, if you go into settings, tap “Data usage”, and then tap the Facebook app icon, you can then select “Restrict app background data.” You can also go into the settings in the actual Facebook app (found under “More” after you open Facebook), uncheck “autoplay videos” and set it to “WiFi only”. Now Facebook does not add to cell data unless you are using it. In addition, there is another data saving setting on the phone to update all apps only when connected to WiFi.

Apr 21, 2017

WiFi vs. Plugged In Speeds

Each Wi-Fi standard is rated according to its maximum theoretical network bandwidth. The newest, 802.11ac offers up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps). However, the performance of Wi-Fi networks practically never approach these theoretical maximums, usually performing at about half of peak speed. If you compare 300 Mbps WiFi to wired Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps, the Ethernet connection most often outperforms in real world usage.
Wi-Fi networks have a range that is limited by the transmission power, antenna type, the location, physical obstacles, such as walls, number of other devices sharing the signal, and the environment. A typical indoor wireless router might have a solid range of about 32 meters (105 ft). Distance from the source also degrades performance. The fastest theoretical WiFi 802.11 ac is maximum speed of 866.7 Mb/s.

Plugged in (Ethernet) offers advantages, such as faster speeds, lower latency, and no wireless interference problems.  A wired Ethernet connection can theoretically offer up to 10 Gb/s.

Bottom line, when it comes to speed necessary for streaming movies and TV WiFi may be more convenient, but is much slower and may cause delays and hesitations. Also, when looking at your speed, consider 10Mbs as the absolute minimum for streaming - and more is better.


Incidentally, no matter how fast your WiFi is within your house, it does not increase the speed of the connection between your house and the Internet.

Feb 6, 2015

WiFi Dilemma

Get the WiFi passwords at various places by checking the comments section of their FourSquare accounts. You are welcome.

Jun 20, 2014

Beware Hot Spots

Comcast is doing something different, adding your router output as free WiFi to others passing by. It is also an opt-out solution, which means it is enabled by default and you need to turn it off. It also does not pay you for this use by others.

Comcast is quietly turning on public hotspots in its customers’ routers and turning private homes into public hotspots. Other Comcast customers get free Wi-Fi wherever there is a Comcast box and the company gets to build out a private network to compete with telecoms, but using your resources.

Fifty thousand users with basic modems that Comcast cable provides have already been turned into public hotspots in Houston, and there are plans to enable 150,000 more.

It is using your private residence as a corporate resource and using your electricity, your Internet connection, and potentially opening up your private browsing to hackers. Comcast says these two streams are independent, but that has never stopped hackers. There is also nothing to stop someone from downloading illicit material, software, and other junk from your hotspot, implicating you if caught. Remember, if there is a line out, that means there is also a line in. Caveat Emptor Comcast users.

Sep 26, 2012

Cheap Tablets

Fry's now sells a 7 inch tablet for $56. It has a bunch of models under a hundred dollars. Prices are dropping faster than anyone could imagine. At that price they become an impulse buy. It has mail, front camera, internet, and uses Wifi. Toys R Us is even selling a tablet specifically for children.

The name Wifi is not an acronym, it is just a trademark term with no meaning. Some erroneously think it means wireless fidelity, because it sounds like the old HiFi term.