Home Tech & Innovation Everything you’ve always wanted to know about wireless. Ever.

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about wireless. Ever.


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We won’t hold it against you if you find wireless networking a bit of a head-scratcher. All this talk of WiFi, WiMAX, Bluetooth, 3G, 802.11, 802.16…

What the huh? Intel’s so glad you asked.


Bluetooth’s whole purpose in life is to create a wireless personal area network (WPAN) using radio frequencies to transmit data. It works over short distances, so as not to disrupt broadcast frequencies.

In many places Bluetooth has replaced short data-transfer cables. Exhibit A: once upon a time if you wanted to synchronise contacts and appointments between your mobile phone/PDA and PC, you’d hook up a serial or USB cable between the two. *So* 1.0.

With Bluetooth, simply moving your mobile device within range of your PC will do the trick. In many cases synching starts automatically.

Other nifty uses for Bluetooth include:

  • Sending audio information between a phone and a wireless headset (but for goodness sake don’t wear it all day – you look like a nuff nuff)
  • Wireless keyboards, mice, printers and writing tablets
  • Connecting your cell phone to your car


WiFi is the go-to technology for setting up wireless local area networks (WLANs). You can recognise it listed on hardware as 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of setting up a home network via a wireless router, or if your office sports wireless networking, there’s a good chance you’re a dab hand at WiFi. Ditto if you’ve ever connected at an airport, coffee shop, library or restaurant bigging up its ‘hot spot’.

Comparing WiFi to Bluetooth is all very apples and oranges. WiFi supports multiple connections at once, has dramatically increased range, and is way faster.


3G is the third generation mobile phone protocol. While it remains part of the cellular network, 3G also boasts additional web and video whiz-bangery.

3G’s higher speeds lend themselves to faster transmission of audio, video and other large, high-bandwidth files.


WiMax stands for worldwide interoperability for microwave access. Catchy, no? Based on the 802.16 wireless broadband access protocol, it does for Web users what cell phone technology did for phone subscribers.

A subscriber in a WiMax-enabled city can connect to the interwebs instantaneously pretty much anywhere in the metro area. Using WiMAX eliminates the need for someone to find a local hotspot, while its impressive range (up to 31 miles) means subscribers can connect during their work commute.

WiMAX is also fast becoming the preferred technology for disaster relief. It was used after both Hurricane Katrina in America and the tsunami in Indonesia.

Looking for a computer to help you get your wireless on? Look for laptops and desktops with Intel Inside and experience a safer computing experience.