Wireless Internet Connection
I'm Faith Lapidus. And I'm Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. The Internet computer communications system permits anyone with a computer to search for information almost anywhere in the world. This method of communication began with computers linked to telephones.
Now, computers can link to the Internet without telephones. Today we tell about "Wireless Fidelity" or the Wi-Fi method of communicating with the world.
Our report begins during World War Two in nineteen forty-two. It involves a famous and beautiful movie actress, Hedy Lamarr, and a music composer, George Antheil. They invented a method of quickly changing radio frequencies. Radio frequencies that are quickly changed cannot be intercepted or blocked by the enemy.
Mizz Lamarr and Mr. Antheil believed this method of communication would make it harder for the enemy to detect radio-guided underwater weapons used to sink enemy ships. They gave the idea to the United States Navy. Navy officials believed the idea was important and guarded it as a national secret. But they never used the invention because it would have been very difficult to develop. However, the United States government gave Mizz Lamarr and Mr. Antheil legal protection for their idea.
This idea later became known as "spread spectrum technology." It remained a secret until nineteen eighty-five. In the last several years, this old idea has become the most modern method of communication involving computers and telephones. It is called Wireless Fidelity, or Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi is a method of communication between computers without the use of wires. This is how it works. One computer has a very small, low-power radio transmitter and receiver device. It communicates with a device called a router that is attached to a second computer. The second computer is linked to the Internet in the traditional way by telephone. The router sends and receives signals to and from both computers.
The first computer must be within several meters of the router for the system to work. Routers can be placed almost anywhere. Usually, a network of routers covers a large area. As a result, a person with a small laptop computer can use the machine to link with the Internet at any place that has a router.
Wi-Fi still uses Mizz Lamarr's and Mr. Antheil's idea. It uses several frequencies at the same time. This prevents interference and produces a clear radio signal. Experts say Wi-Fi is the fastest growing part of the computer industry.
In the very recent past, if you wanted to connect with the Internet computer system, you had to link with a telephone. It is now possible to link with the Internet in almost any place that has Wi-Fi equipment. Wi-Fi connections can be found in most major airports in the United States. People traveling through airports on business trips can use their computers while waiting for their flights. They can use this link to send and receive business information. This service is free in most American airports. All the person has to do is turn on his or her laptop computer and have the computer search for the Wi-Fi link.
Most modern laptop computers search for the nearest Wi-Fi link as soon as they are turned on. The computer produces a message telling the owner if it has found a Wi-Fi link and how strong the signal is.
Several major hotel companies around the world now have Wi-Fi links. These links are found in hotel rooms or a special area of the hotel. The hotels provide this as a service to guests who are staying at the hotel. They might provide guests with a special number for their computer to use the Wi-Fi link. Other hotels provide a good, strong link that can be used by anyone who has a laptop that can communicate with the router signal.
Industry experts say thousands of hotels, motels, and businesses around the United States are providing Wi-Fi connections. This is very important for people who travel a great deal on business. In fact, many major cities around the world are already providing the service. Most cities are planning to make a huge Wi-Fi link that will let people use their laptop computers almost anywhere in the city.
Many cities already have Wi-Fi or will in the near future. They include the American cities of San Francisco, California; Saint Louis, Missouri and Washington, D.C. They also include, London, England; Brussels, Belgium; Paris, France; Taipei, Taiwan and Pune, India. The list of cities planning to provide Wi-Fi is very long.
Wi-Fi links are usually free in public places. Many cities and towns provide Wi-Fi in their public libraries. Some coffee houses and eating places in the United States also provide free Wi-Fi service. However, if you are using the service you are usually expected to buy food or a cup of coffee.
A modern laptop computer should connect to a Wi-Fi signal very quickly. However, if the person using the laptop has problems with the signal, most businesses that provide the service will help connect to the link. Many businesses will provide written information that tells how to connect with their link.
Business owners have learned that a Wi-Fi service brings people into the business. And, if the Wi-Fi link is good, they may stay longer and spend more money while they work. An example is a hotel company that provides a good link for business travelers. This would make all the company's hotels more popular with business travelers.
Wi-Fi is becoming extremely popular in the United States. Industry experts say that more than sixty-four million Wi-Fi systems are expected to be sold this year. This is an increase from twenty-four million in two thousand two. More than eight and one half million American homes have Wi-Fi equipment. Experts say this is expected to increase to twenty-eight million homes in two thousand eight. Wi-Fi systems are not costly and easy to link with a home computer. Laptop computers with Wi-Fi equipment can then be used in almost any room in the house.
This also makes it possible for more than one person in the family to use the home computer system at the same time. For example, a mother can use the home computer in her office while a child uses a laptop to do his schoolwork in his room.
Industry studies show that seventy-seven percent of home Wi-Fi users also want to connect other devices to their computer. These include devices for copying music. Experts say Wi-Fi technology is also changing the way and the amount of time people use computers and the Internet.
For example, many people use their Wi-Fi connected laptops to pay bills when they are in their home office. They look for cooking instructions on the Internet when they are in the kitchen. Or they watch a movie on their computer late at night in the living room. The experts say the future will include much more use of Wi-Fi technology.
Computer industry experts warn that Wi-Fi users should be very careful when using this exciting technology. They say users should not send important or secret business information without good security. The industry experts say many public places that provide Wi-Fi links do not provide information security. They say anyone can copy everything you send or receive if the computer does not have a security system.
Many places leave security technology turned off to make it easier for people to find and use the Wi-Fi link. The experts say important information should never been sent or received in a public Wi-Fi link without good computer security.
Industry experts say Wi-Fi has increased sales of laptop computers. Laptops that can link with Wi-Fi are now more than thirty percent of the sales of new computers in the United States. And, Wi-Fi equipment is selling well because it can be placed in older computers and is low in cost.
Computer experts say Wi-Fi technology will continue to grow as the industry improves this method of communication. They say that the laptop computer linked to Wi-Fi will truly make the Internet part of daily life in the very near future.
This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember. And I'm Faith Lapidus. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program in VOA Special English.