Internet Tips and Tricks

42 WiFi Terms You Need to Know if You Have Wireless Internet

Do you understand WiFi terms, or does it sound like another language? Our glossary of terms will help you learn essential WiFi terms you need to know, explaining the technical mumbo jumbo, abbreviations, and common acronyms you will run into when discussing wireless internet with your friends, family, coworkers, or internet service providers.

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Below you’ll find the common and not-so-standard WiFi terms, so you’re ready for any conversation. Let’s explore.

WiFi Terms

Access point – Base station device for a wireless network that allows wireless devices to connect to a network. Access points can increase the range of your WiFi. 

Antenna – A device used to send and receive radio waves. Any device that sends or receives wireless signals needs to have an antenna. Usually, they are internal and not visible. 

Bandwidth – A term to describe the amount of data transmitted over a connection. Typically, bandwidth is measured in bits per second or megabits per second.

Base Station – A radio receiver or transmitter that is the component of a wireless LAN that acts as the hub of a wireless network or serves as the bridge between the wired network and the wireless clients. 

Bridge – a device that connects two or more LANs or networks and allows them to share resources. For example, wired internet to wireless. 

Channel – A specific frequency range that a wifi network operates in. 

Client – Any device that uses wifi to connect to a network such as a smartphone, or laptop.

Coverage Area – the area in which a wifi signal can be received by devices.

DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol- is the protocol used by routers to assign IP addresses dynamically to devices on a network so they can communicate. 

DNS – Domain Name System- The decentralized system used to translate the English domain names we see in web browsers into numerical IP addresses

DSL – Digital Subscriber Lane – The connection runs over phone lines which can be used for both DSL and voice communication. It is available for both residential and commercial use.

Dwell Time – The length of time that a user or device is connected to WiFi 

Encryption – A process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format so only the sender and recipient can read it for data protection and security.

Ethernet – A popular type of computer networking technology that supports wired internet connections over distances up to 100 meters. Most commonly, ethernet connections utilize Cat5 or Cat6 cables. 

Firewall – A protective security device in the form of software or hardware that monitors traffic to and from your device. Firewalls can block or allow data based on set security parameters to stop hackers or viruses. 

Frequency Bands- WiFi frequency bands are frequency ranges within a spectrum that carry WiFi. Frequency is the number of times a waveform repeats in one second (the higher the frequency, the faster data transmits). 

GHz – gigahertz- a unit of frequency equal to one billion hertz.

Hotspot – access points that allow you to connect to WiFi networks using devices while away from your home network. Some hotspots are publically accessible wifi networks. 

Intranet – a private restricted network that uses wifi to connect devices within an organization that users can share and store information within the private network. 

IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers- this is the professional organization responsible for developing WiFi standards.

Interference – Any type of energy that can affect the operation of a WiFi network, sources include wireless microwaves, baby monitors, and other neighboring networks. 

IoT the Internet of Things, a network of physical devices that are connected to the internet

IP Address – Internet Protocol address- this is a unique identifier address assigned to every device connected to the internet. IP addresses consist of a series of numbers used to communicate over the internet. 

ISP – Internet Service Provider- a company that provides access to the internet.

Kbps – kilobits per second: a unit of data transfer rate equal to one thousand bits per second.

LAN – Local Area Network: a network of devices in one physical location or wifi network such as in an office or school.

Mbps – megabits per second: a unit of data transfer rate equal to one million bits per second.

MIMO – multiple-input, multiple-output – a Wi-Fi technology that uses multiple antennas to improve performance and transfer more data simultaneously. 

Mesh network – Multiple routers that work together to create a wifi network to provide better coverage in larger spaces like homes or offices. 

Net neutrality – the principle that all data on the internet should be treated equally, regardless of its source or destination. Meaning the internet service provider needs to give all content and sites the same speed and conditions. 

Packet – A small unit of data that is sent over a network. Each package includes a source and destination plus the content.

Ping – Is a signal sent used to test the reachability of a host on an IP network. Commonly they are sent to measure response times or see if the host is available. 

PSK – Pre-Shared Key- a wifi security key that is shared between the user and the network. It consists of 8 to 63 characters. 

Repeater – A device that amplifies the signal of a wifi network and rebroadcasts it. 

Router – A device that allows your computer or other devices to connect to the internet. Routers connect your local home network to the internet then forwards data packets between devices.

SSID – Service Set Identifier- this is the name assigned to a wifi network. In simplest terms, a WiFi network name distinguishes it from other surrounding networks. 

Sticky Client – a wifi device that is configured to connect to a specific access point that no longer provides strong coverage when better access points are available.

TCP – Transmission Control Protocol- One of the main protocols used by the internet. TCP uses a suite of communication protocols to connect network devices. 

VoIP – Voice over IP- a technology that allows voice conversations to be transmitted over an IP network.

WAN – Wide Area Network-  Any WiFi network that covers a large geographic area, such as a city or region connecting other local area networks. 

WiFi – Wireless Fidelity- this is the common name for the 802.11 family of wifi standards.

WPA, WPA2, WEP – Wi-Fi Protected Access- A security standard used to protect devices with a WiFi connection using encryption and user authentication, created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. WPA2 is currently the standard.

WiFi Terms – It’s a Wrap! 

There you have it, the definitive list of WiFi terms! Bookmark this page and keep it handy. If you ever need to look one up, you’ll be glad you did. 

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