A beginner’s guide to understanding wireless technologies

Previously we talked about mobile phones and Personal Computers and drew a comparison between the two gadgets. We discovered that with today’s phones, you can do on phone pretty much what you do with your PC including taking and editing photos, writing notes, browsing the web and reading email. As a matter of fact am writing this post from my Nokia 6131.

This time let’s demystify some wireless technologies you’ve been using or hearing about.

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Infrared

Infrared is an old technology though It’s still used in some portable gadgets like your remote control. It used to be used in phones and PC for proximity or close data transfer but has since been taken over by Bluetooth.

Bluetooth

Most of us are definitely familiar with Bluetooth and we usually use it to transfer photos, music files, vCards between phones. The advantage with Bluetooth is that It consumes very little power (though you should always turn it off for power saving and security reasons) and widely adapted by a
wide range of devices. Bluetooth is not common in most PCs though its included in all Apple laptops.

Wi-Fi

Then we have Wi-Fi or wireless fidelity. This is a wireless technology used by laptops and wireless cards in desktops. If you’ve ever accessed internet via a hotspot, then you’ve used Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi allows for faster data transfers than Bluetooth at 54Mbps and is capable of transmission ranges of between 50-100m indoors. Bluetooth can only transmit up to 10m.

While Wi-Fi is popular in laptops, It’s not supported by most mobile phones with the exception of smart phones like the iPhone, Nokia N95, Blackberry. Both wireless technologies are for data transmission.

GPRS

Then we have GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). If you’ve accessed the mobile web or surfed on you mobile phone, then you’ve used GPRS. Mobile phones were predominantly used for voice and SMS services. Hence GPRS was created so that you can access mobile data like the internet. However as you might have noticed, GPRS is very slow capable of up to 156 Kbps data speeds. It’s often referred to as 2G or second generation technology.

3G

This leads us to what you might have heard the Telecoms advertise and that is 3G or third Generation technology. 3G, offers faster data rate speeds than 2G or GPRS as far as internet access on your phone or PC (through a 3G modem) is concerned.

Update:

With huge leaps in technology, we now have better and faster wireless technologies like 4G and NFC. Improvements to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have been made enabling it transfer faster and much more efficiently. Wireless technologies are powering lots of systems especially in the Internet of things era allowing for devices to communicate.

Image: vutrax.co.uk