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    By Vangie Beal

    In networking terminology, wireless is an adjective that describes any network or device that does not need a wired connection to transmit information or perform tasks. Instead of physical wires (copper or optical fiber), wireless networks and devices use light waves or radio frequencies to function.

    In networking specifically, wireless technology utilizes specialized equipment such as Network Interface Cards (NICs), access points (APs), and routers to establish a connection between a transmitter and receiver. This hardware creates an infrastructure that then sends information between devices using radio frequencies.

    Types of wireless technologies

    Wireless connections can be established using a number of different technologies, including:

    • Bluetooth: uses UHF radio waves to exchange data between devices in close proximity
    • Cellular: uses a global network of transceivers in geographic land areas (called cells) to transmit data
    • RFID: uses radio frequencies to transmit unique identification signals
    • Satellite: uses devices that have been launched into space to relay signals between earth stations
    • Wi-Fi: uses electromagnetic fields to connect devices and transmit data between them
    • Zigbee: uses specialized chips to create a personal area network for devices that can transmit data without a lot of power or bandwidth
    • Qi: uses electromagnetic induction to transfer electrical power from one device to another
    • Infrared: uses electromagnetic radiation to send signals from one device to another

    Examples of wireless devices

    The application of the wireless technologies listed above ranges from very basic to very complex, and some wireless devices were developed well before the dawn of the Internet. Examples of older wireless devices and more recent inventions include:

    • Key fobs, like garage door openers and remote car starters, use infrared signals and are perhaps the oldest type of wireless devices
    • Two-way radios, which enable users to communicate via radio frequencies
    • Satellite television, which distributes television programming from a central station to numerous receivers within a geographic region
    • Mobile phones, which are battery powered and function over a wireless cellular network
    • Smarthome devices, which connect to one another using Zigbee chips and protocols
    • Wireless charging systems, which largely use Qi technology to power devices