Feature: Cutting the cord: how the world’s engineers built Wi-Fi

In the 1980s, even before connectivity to the Internet became commonplace, people realized that connecting a group of computers together in a local area network (LAN) made those computers much more useful. Any user could then print to shared printers, store files on file servers, send electronic mail, and more. A decade later, the Internet revolution swept the world and LANs became the on-ramp to the information superhighway. The LAN technology of choice was almost universally Ethernet, which is terrific apart from one big downside: those pesky wires.

In the late 1990s, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) solved that problem with their 802.11 standard, which specified a protocol for creating wireless LANs. If ever the expression “easier said than done” applied, it was here. Huge challenges have been overcome in the past 15 years to get us to the point where reasonably reliable, fast, and secure wireless LAN equipment can today be deployed by anyone, and where every laptop comes with built-in Wi-Fi. But overcome they were—and here’s how.

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from Ars Technica http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/10/cutting-the-cord-how-the-worlds-engineers-built-wi-fi.ars?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+Featured+Content%29

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