teach-ict.com logo

THE education site for computer science and ICT

3. Wireless networks

An alternative to connecting computers together using wires is to transmit information between them using radio waves. There are a number of technologies that allow this.


Bluetooth is a common wireless technology for small Personal Area Networks (PANs).

Bluetooth can connect up to seven active devices, but only if they are close together. For example in a modern car you can 'pair' a smart phone to the car so that you can play music from your phone or make and receive hands-free calls.

Bluetooth 3.0 allows for a network speed of up to 25Mbps.

Personal Area Network PAN


To wirelessly connect computers together within the space of a house or office, a better choice is Wi-Fi.

All Wi-Fi networks have a piece of hardware called a 'wireless access point' (WAP). Radio signals are sent from Wi-Fi enabled devices to the WAP. The WAP can then either relay the signal to another wireless device, or it can convert it into an electrical signal to send on to a wired network.

Speeds of up to 54 Mbps can be acheived.


Long distance wireless connections can be established with microwave links. This is a line-of-sight technology, which means each telecom tower containing the microwave dish need to be in sight of another one a few miles away.

A typical network speed of 3Gbps can be sustained.

Large companies make use of this technology to create private WANs

Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: Wireless Networks