What Is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that allows devices such as computers (laptops and desktops), mobile devices (smart phones and wearables), and other equipment (printers and video cameras) to interface with the Internet. It allows these devices--and many more--to exchange information with one another, creating a network. Internet connectivity occurs through a wireless router. When you access Wi-Fi, you are connecting to a wireless router that allows your Wi-Fi-compatible devices to interface with the Internet.
How does Wi-Fi work?
On the technical side, the IEEE 802.11 standard defines the protocols that enable communications with current Wi-Fi-enabled wireless devices, including wireless routers and wireless access points. Wireless access points support different IEEE standards.
Each standard is an amendment that was ratified over time. The standards operate on varying frequencies, deliver different bandwidth, and support different numbers of channels.
What is a wireless access point?
A wireless access point (AP) allows wireless devices to connect to the wireless network. Having a Cisco wireless network makes it easy to bring new devices online and provides flexible support to mobile workers.
What a wireless access point does for your network is similar to what an amplifier does for your home stereo. An access point takes the bandwidth coming from a router and stretches it so that many devices can go on the network from farther distances away. But a wireless access point does more than simply extend Wi-Fi. It can also give useful data about the devices on the network, provide proactive security, and serve many other practical purposes.
What is a wireless router?
Wireless routers are commonly found in homes. They're the hardware devices that Internet service providers use to connect you to their cable or xDSL Internet network. A wireless router is sometimes referred to as a wireless local area network (WLAN) device. A wireless network is also called a Wi-Fi network. A wireless router combines the networking functions of a wireless access point and a router. Read more about wireless routers.