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Wireless communications refer to the transmission of voice and data without cables or wires. Instead of physical connections, electromagnetic signals are used to carry information from sending facilities to intermediate and end-user devices. Wireless transmitters have been around since the early 20th century and use electromagnetic waves to send voice, data, video or signals over a communication path. The first wireless transmitters used Morse code and other coded signals for communication, while later ones used modulation to transmit voice and music wirelessly.
The modern wireless networking we know today began in the early 1970s with the launch of ALOHAnet in Hawaii. This wide area network (WAN) relied on ultra-high frequency signals to broadcast data among the islands and played an important role in the development of Ethernet in 1973 and the first wireless standard, 802.11.
Wireless features have evolved from simple data transfers to operations that require gigabits of data to complete. Each new generation of wireless communications offers more sophisticated capabilities, giving users more flexibility in how they access information and services. Wireless networks are groupings of multiple devices where data is sent and received over radio frequencies, enabling organizations to eliminate the dedicated wired cabling required to connect endpoint computing devices.
A wide variety of wireless equipment enables users to stay connected without being tethered by wires. Examples of wireless equipment include cellular phones, cordless telephones, global positioning systems, cordless computer peripherals, wireless LANs (WLANs), wireless routers, laptops and tablets, and infrared wireless.
Wireless networks come in different types, including wireless LANs, wireless wide area networks, wireless metropolitan area networks, fixed wireless, wireless personal area networks, and municipal wireless networks. Wireless LANs use radio technology instead of wires to connect nodes along the network, while wireless personal area networks are enabled with short-range wireless technology such as Bluetooth to connect with keyboards, mice, headphones, and other devices. Municipal wireless networks provide internet connectivity in public spaces such as parks, airports, and public transportation systems.