Most people don’t know how their internet works. You might know that when the light on your router is green, it means everything’s working, and when it’s red or yellow, there’s a problem. For most people, that’s about it. If you’re looking to learn more about how your internet connection works, then you know there’s a lot of moving parts to connect your whole home to a wireless service. You probably won’t need advanced tools like broadband power dividers, but you will need a router or modem and maybe even a wired connection.
You most likely noticed on your computer at work how it has a multitude of wires running from the back of it behind your desk. Maybe you’ve even followed the wires to their source and found some kind of large tower with numerous ports and colorful cords coming out of every side. This is a wired connection.
Through a wired connection, you run the internet from a router to your computer via wires. If a wire is dislodged or unplugged, you lose connectivity. Some places will even give each desk its own wired router, which is connected to the larger network, to improve internet speeds.
Wireless connections, or Wi-Fi, are how most people access the internet. With this method, you don’t need to be hardwired into a router to use the web, all you have to do is connect to the network. You establish this connection through an access point, often a wireless router. These work similarly to wired routers, but instead of sending their signals through a wire, they broadcast them in waves through a room or house.
The device you use to access the internet is called the Wi-Fi client. It can be any piece of technology with Wi-Fi capability, which is almost everything these days—cellphones, tablets, computers, even smartwatches. These devices are designed to pick up on your router’s broadcast and connect to it so you have internet access.
Lastly, your Wi-Fi can only broadcast a signal so far, just like a wire is only so long. You might have noticed that you’re connected to your internet inside your home, but once you walk to the mailbox at the end of your driveway, it disconnects. This is because your mailbox is out of the range of your router.
The internet is complex, but the basics are easy to grasp if you take the time to get to know them.