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What Does Wireless Mean?

Wireless is an encompassing term that describes numerous communication technologies that rely on a wireless signal to send data rather than using a physical medium (often a wire). In wireless transmission, the medium used is the air, through electromagnetic, radio and microwave signals. The term communication here not only means communication between people but between devices and other technologies as well.


Techopedia Explains Wireless

Wireless could refer to any device that communicates with other devices wirelessly, meaning there is no physical connection between them. Wireless technology started in the early 20th century with radiotelegraphy using Morse code. When the process of modulation was introduced, it became possible to transmit voices, music and other sounds wirelessly. This medium then came to be known as radio. Due to the demand of data communication, the need for a larger portion of the spectrum of wireless signals became a requirement and the term wireless gained widespread use.

When the word wireless is mentioned, people most often mean wireless computer networking as in Wi-Fi or cellular telephony, which is the backbone of personal communications.

Common everyday wireless technologies include:

  • 802.11 Wi-Fi: Wireless networking technology for personal computers
  • Bluetooth: Technology for interconnecting small devices
  • Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM): De facto mobile phone standard in many countries
  • Two-Way Radio: Radio communications, as in amateur and citizen band radio services, as well as business and military communications

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.