The term wireless is normally used to refer to any type of electrical or electronic operation which is accomplished without the use of a "hard wired" connection. Wireless communication is the transfer of information over a distance without the use of electrical conductors or "wires". The distances involved may be short (a few meters as in television remote control) or very long (thousands or even millions of kilometers for radio communications). When the context is clear the term is often simply shortened to "wireless". Wireless communications is generally considered to be a branch of telecommunications.




When viewed as a method of data transport, wireless technology appears very similar to wired technology. You have a piece of hardware, a method of transmission, and connections on both ends that transform data from human-intelligible to transportable and back. For both wired and wireless technology, the range of transmission is an issue. You can't move your laptop 15 feet from the wall jack when depending on a 10-foot cable. Similarly, you can't go out for a jog and expect your in-home cordless phone to keep a connection five miles away from its receiver. But if you get either a 20-foot cable or a wireless connector of sufficient power, you can move your laptop 15 feet away from the wall jack; and if you get a cellular phone, you can go jogging five miles away from your house and still take calls (as long as your service provider has a reasonable antenna set up).


The methods of connection and ranges of service available vary in wireless technology just as they do in wired technology. Home telephones with a wireless handset have a more limited range than cellular phones; infrared transmissions have a more limited range than radio-wave (including microwave) transmissions. Different types of wireless solutions can communicate ten feet, ten miles, or with a satellite in orbit.



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