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An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

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1.5 Wireless networks

Wireless networks are increasingly taking over from wired networks. Similar connecting devices are still needed, it is only the data transmission that is changed.

The change to wireless communication has been driven by the development of the technology for mobile phone networks, and the evolution of the phone into the smartphone. A smartphone is a very portable computer, and that is why you can check your email or watch videos on your smartphone as easily as you can on a PC.

Sometimes wireless communication is used even where no mobility is required, because it is generally easier and quicker to install a wireless link than to install cables, and/or because there are specific obstacles that make it difficult to install a cable. Thinking back to the home hub mentioned earlier in this session, that is a wireless transmitter, as well as a switch connecting your devices into a home network, and it is also a router connecting your home network and devices to the internet; all without you have to recable your house.

The advantages of wireless communication are not confined to the home. In cities, for example, fixed microwave links are sometimes used for WANs and MANs, because they can be created by installing two antennas pointing at each other instead of having to dig up the streets in order to lay a cable.