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Wifi History

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Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) was originally developed in 1991 in a joint venture between NCR and AT&T. The original objective was to create a wireless method of connecting cashier stations. Later, this technology was adapted to the larger market of Local Area Networks (LANS). This Wireless LAN technology is described by the 802.11X specification family which is an extension of the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN standards, published by the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE). Adopted by the IEEE in 1997, the 802.11X specification has been updated to accommodate the advances in wireless LAN technology. The original 802.11 specification detailed a technology that provided a rather modest 1 - 2 Mbps transfer rate operating at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. Later variations provide a higher performance 54 Mbps at transmission frequencies up to 5 GHz.

The most commonly encountered wireless LAN technologies correspond to the 802.11b and 802.11g extensions of the standard. These standards are compatible with each other, and can be found in the typical public access WiFi hot spot as well as businesses and private homes. Although there is a provision for establishing an ad hoc (peer to peer) network between individual machines, most wireless networks operate in the infrastructure mode that utilizes a central access point, generally referred to as a Wireless Access Point (WAP). Each wireless device connects to the network through this WAP. To minimize interference and permit a number of wireless devices to connect to the WAP at the same time, a frequency hopping scheme is employed. Although transparent to the user, the radio frequency signal shifts slightly on a regular basis, but maintains synchronization with the WAP.

Despite the application of techniques such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or the newer WiFi Protected Access (WPA) encryption, hiding the system's Service Set IDentifier (SSID) and Media Access Control (MAC) address filtering,



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