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Wireless and Wireless

The term “Wireless” in regards to Internet access is often used to describe a variety of available technologies, and when it comes to deciding which product or solution is the most suitable to your needs, these options often cause confusion. This technical tip explains the different types of “Wireless” connections, along with the specific terminology tied to these different concepts, and why you would (or wouldn’t) choose a particular method.

Wireless LAN (Local Area Network) / WiFi

So you’ve already got a wired internet connection at your premises but you’d like to access the internet via your laptop wirelessly around the house or office instead of having to use a cable to the modem – If this sounds like you, chances are that Wireless LAN, also known as WiFi is what you’re after. A Wireless LAN can be viewed simply as an extension to your existing internet connection, you don’t need to pay extra for an additional service, but you do require equipment that can allow you to create this wireless “extension” to your existing connection.

The Wireless LAN facility is a function of your ADSL router/modem, note the aerial. With a Wireless LAN, you can only connect within a certain

range of your modem, usually less than 100m.

If you are looking for a service where you can use the internet wirelessly when out of the office, on the train etc, the next solution would be more suitable.

3G / Mobile Broadband

3G Mobile Broadband, unlike Wireless LAN / WiFi, is a standalone service, and is paid for just like a standard wired internet connection. 3G Mobile Broadband allows you to access the internet via your laptop, and a 3G Mobile Broadband modem. The advantage of 3G is the ability to access the internet on-the-go, wherever you happen to be - provided you are in an area with 3G coverage.

So when thinking about a wireless connection you need to ask yourself “Do I want internet access while I’m out and about?” or “Do I want to be able to use my computer on my ADSL connection around the house without using a cable?” Of course you may want both these options, in which case you should get a wireless modem for your ADSL connection and a 3G Mobile Broadband modem, and pay for both types of connection.