Wireless Internet cards provide your PC or other type of mobile device with wireless connectivity to the Internet. Some devices come already equipped with a wireless Internet card where others require you to insert one in order to establish Internet connectivity. The type of Internet access you establish depends upon the wireless router that provides the signal since all routers work on different channels to prevent interference.
Wireless Internet cards are also called Local Area Network cards because they help you to establish connectivity to a nearby wireless network. The wireless Internet card provides a way for your PC to automatically find the nearest wireless network to help you access the Internet.
Anatomy of Wireless Internet
If you understand how wireless Internet works it makes it easier to understand the role that wireless Internet cards play in the establishment of Internet access. Wireless connectivity works through radio waves as opposed to transferring data over a phone line or DSL cable.
When you hear of hot spots this refers to a wireless access point that delivers an Internet signal via a wireless router. The router receives the Internet connection from the Internet Service Provider and then broadcasts the radio waves within a specific designated distance so you can pick up the signal with the wireless Internet card from your PC.
Purpose of the Wireless Internet Card
The wireless Internet card is inserted into your PC and it uses a small antenna to pick up the wireless signal for your PC to read. Some PCs come already equipped with a wireless Internet card which means they are ready to accept the nearest Internet signal from the router or wireless access point. If your PC is not WiFi enabled you can purchase a wireless Internet card to equip the PC to accept a wireless signal from the nearest access point.
Wireless Internet Card Operation
Wireless Internet cards operate at a higher frequency than actual radio waves to enable a faster rate of data transfer. Additionally, the cards communicate with the router on different channels to reduce the chances of interference in a public access location. All wireless Internet cards run by the standard set forth by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers which is based on the 802.11 standard. There are different variations of this standard which determine different speeds of data transfer. 802.11 is the standard with the variations consisting of 802.11b and 802.11g and the most recent 802.11n.
WEP vs. WPA Protection
Most wireless Internet cards offer some type of protection in addition to helping you to achieve wireless connectivity. If your mobile device is not equipped with a wireless card look for wireless card that has either Wired Equivalency Protection (WEP) or WiFi Protected Access (WPA). The difference between the WEP and WPA is that WEP helps to protect your data from hackers and other unscrupulous people who eavesdrop on wireless networks, especially unprotected public access networks. If you want more security WPA provides a higher grade of encryption than WEP by using encryption keys that change on a frequent basis for added protection when using wireless networks. This prevents hackers from intercepting your data during transmission over a wireless network.
Keep in mind that WEP or WPA reduces your chances of eavesdropping however data interception may still occur on public access networks. This is why it is important to play it safe and avoid entering passwords or accessing your financial records over a public network. Save these tasks for when you are connected to a more secure network.
Different Types of Wireless Internet Cards
There are different types of wireless cards that install both internally or externally on your PC. If you have a desktop PC chances are it is equipped with a PCI wireless adapter which is also known as a Peripheral Component Interconnect. This is a card slot that provides the PC with wireless capability.
A PCMCIA wireless adapter is designed for a laptop PC and either exists in the form of a PCIMIA slot or has a card that comes pre-installed when you purchase your laptop. If your laptop does not have this type of capability you can use a compact wireless Internet card that plugs into the USB port on your PC.
Purchasing a Wireless Internet Card
If you are looking to purchase a wireless Internet card you must choose one that is compatible with the operating system you use such as Windows or Mac. You should also decide what Internet speed is appropriate for your needs and then choose a wireless card that suits your purpose. Wireless cards vary in price range and according to the speed of data transfer.
This information should provide you with the basic understanding you need to learn for wireless Internet cards work and how they provide mobile connectivity for your laptop PC and other mobile devices.