How does wi-fi work (in simple words)?
Lala ♥
2011-07-25 15:21:15 UTC
Okay, I don't want to sound like I just came out of a cave, but I really don't know how wi-fi works. Here's the problem:
I'm currently using a computer at home. I have an AT&T Uverse account, which I believe has wi-fi.
If I get a lap top, what do I do to share the same internet connection as my computer? Do I have to call AT&T and tell them to connect for me? Do I go on my lap top and connect myself? If so, do I need some kind of password? Where's the password? I'm guessing there's no wire connection needed since it's "wireless."

I want to buy a lap top because when I get to Las Vegas this August, I will have something to do while my parents hang out in the casino. My mom says she'll buy me a lap top but how am I going to use the internet? I told her there's Wi-fi in the hotels but I'm not really sure how it works. If I need a password, do I ask the hotel 'workers' to give me the password? Thank you.
Three answers:
2011-07-25 15:23:55 UTC
If you have a wireless router, you just search for any wireless devices on your laptop and you should find your router and just connect to it using a password (which should be written on the underside of the router but you can change it to whatever you want).

As for hotels, most of them charge for wifi internet access, and usually it's not cheap at all.
2011-07-25 15:36:14 UTC
WIFI is NOT an internet connection.

WIFI is the Wireless component of a Local Area Network.

A Local Area Network is a group of two or more computers connected together so they can share files and devices like a printer. There are two ways to connect these computers (1) by Ethernet Cable or (2) by Wireless (WIFI).

Now by chance, if the WIFI Router is connected to or has a built in MODEM, and has an Internet Account with the local ISP, all the computers on the Local Area Network (LAN) will be able to connect to the Internet.

For WIFI to work you need too items of Equipment: (1) A WIFI Router and (2) a WIFI adapter (USB device) or built in WIFI card for the computer.

WIFI is wireless communications by radio waves. You need a transmitter/receiver at BOTH ends.

WIFI can be set up to be secure, where you have to enter a KEY (password) and the radio link is encrypted so other people close by can't use it. A new Router fresh out of the box DOES NOT have the WIFI link secured. You have to go into the settings of the WIFI Router and turn on the Encryption and set a KEY (password). WPA2 is the best encryption currently available.

All new laptops today come with the WIFI adapter built in and for that to work you will need a WIFI Router connected to your existing internet connection (modem).

Clear as Mud??
2011-07-25 19:00:16 UTC
If the AT&T unit is a 'combo' modem/wifi router, then a new laptop would be able to connect over the airwaves, up to about 150'.

You do not have to tell anyone about what devices you're using at your own Network.

It's yours and private.

A password implies encryption, which you should set up at home; for security.

(a bit complex to cover here, but post another Q and someone will help).

There will be no interference with either a wired computer you now have, or other wifi devices within that 150'. This 'open' wifi arrangement has security implications, which is a whole 'nother can of worms, but first things first.

If you travel with a wifi device, you can connect to any 'open' wifi network, but like your home 'open' network, it has security issues you'll need to consider.

Once at your destination, ask the desk if they have wifi & what type it is, and it's SSID (the name of the wifi network)

Some places have free, open wifi; others have encrypted and free (you'll need a password to get 'on' it); some places charge for accessing wifi (again, probably you'll need a 'password').

There are many aspects of using wifi, both at home and away that you need to know for your safety, but generally speaking, when using 'open' wifi means anyone can 'see' what you're doing, so always keep it casual browsing and no high value site work like banking, credit card, or Facebook or other places that require a 'log-in'.

Study up on how to secure your home wifi, and using wifi on the road; they are important.

**Special note: some places have wifi, but you need to agree to the 'terms of service' (kinda run of the mill stuff), BUT you must also "accept" the Certificate from the router, which means all traffic (including "Secure" SSL) can be read, copied, and snooped by that router: not a good thing at all. In that case NOTHING you do is private or secure. Here again, only casual work on the Internet in this situation.

This content was originally posted on Y! Answers, a Q&A website that shut down in 2021.