The Advantages & Disadvantages of Wi-Fi

Written by alan hughes
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The Advantages & Disadvantages of Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi networks have advantages and disadvantages. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Wireless networks have been a tremendous boon to the network connectivity industry, in the corporate and the home markets. Wi-Fi, the moniker invented by a marketing company, is everywhere. Restaurants, college campuses, churches and even whole cities provide free Wi-Fi access to anyone who can connect with their wireless computing device. While this always-present availability of network connectivity has advantages, it is important to know that there are also some disadvantages.

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Mobile Computing

Wireless computing has brought about a mobility that transcends traditional boundaries. Computers equipped with broadband cards connect to the Internet from virtually any location. Smartphone technology facilitates connection to the Internet, and from there to a business computer in the office or a desktop at home. This move toward mobility has also created a huge market for mobile applications that range from serious apps such as mobile banking, to not-so-serious apps that are just for fun.

Flexible Computing

One of the most obvious advantages of Wi-Fi is the flexibility that it offers. A business office with a Wi-Fi network does not have to worry about where to find a network jack and cable. Everyone can just meet in a conference room, connect to the wireless network and get productive. At home, family members can relax on the sofa or go to their rooms and still get to the Internet, bringing a level of harmony or at least the absence of conflict.

Low Cost of Implementation

Wireless networks, of course, do not require network wiring. The wiring infrastructure for an office accounts for a considerable portion of the total costs of network implementation. When there are no wires that cost goes away. For the same reason, it is also easier and less expensive to grow a wireless network.


Ad hoc networking, a function of wireless networking, allows the construction and deconstruction of a network within a few minutes. This ability to quickly connect allows for collaboration, which would be difficult to achieve without Wi-Fi technology. Students working on projects, engineers constructing buildings or health professionals saving lives all can connect and collaborate quickly and efficiently using Wi-Fi technology.

Weak Security

One big disadvantage of Wi-Fi involves security. By definition, free Wi-Fi hotspots are not secured. These open networks attract hackers who are broadcasting their own network id, very similar to that of the particular establishment. Many times customers connect to the hacker's network ID and become victims of identity theft. Wireless network can be secured for homes and offices, but it does take some work and some expertise, but you should never conduct confidential business on a free Wi-Fi network.


Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4GHz frequency, along with cordless phones, microwaves and even baby monitors. Many times these devices interfere with the wireless signal and cause problems with the network. The actual damage may be noticed immediately with degraded network performance, or much later when you discover that a file has been corrupted.

Limited Range

Wi-Fi networks have limited range, especially in buildings. In an office building or home the signal has a range of about a hundred and fifty feet. Outside, where there are no walls, the signal may travel as far as several hundred feet. You must place the wireless access point in a location that is central so that all computers can attach to the network.

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