We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. Read More Allow Cookies

How does Wi-Fi work?

how does wifi work

Imagine the connection between your router and your computer like two radios communicating with each other but with lower power and broadcasting over a much shorter distance, and completely wireless. The information sent out from your router’s antennas takes the form of 3-dimensional electromagnetic pulses. The only difference between a radio and your Wi-Fi signal is the wavelength or frequency of these pulses. While your car stereo works with frequencies in the Kilohertz and Megahertz range, your wireless router receives data in the Gigahertz range.

The two frequencies your modem works on are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Depending on the frequency you’re using, you can either receive a signal further away from the router or have more people using Wi-Fi without the connection slowing down. The lower the frequency, the farther a transmission can go. The higher the frequency, the shorter the distance the signal can cover.

2.4 GHz frequency

If you feel that your broadband connection is slowing down in your upstairs bedroom, you can try switching to 2.4 GHz. This is the lower frequency and reaches further. Other devices like microwaves may also operate on this frequency. Don’t place your router near these devices to avoid interference.

5 GHz frequency

If your internet connection keeps breaking up when all your housemates or the whole family is online, you can try switching to 5 GHz. The 5 GHz frequency performs better with numerous data transmissions than the lower frequency. The downside of this frequency is that it doesn’t penetrate walls and doors as well as 2.4GHz.

What happens when I download data?

Simply put, your router receives information from the internet through Ethernet cable and translates this into a coded signal that is sent off to your computer’s wireless adapter. This is a set of instructions that tell your computer what to do to display text, images and videos in your browser.

how wifi works

What happens when I upload data?

When you upload data, your computer’s wireless adapter codes data into a signal and transmits it to your router. Your modem receives the signal, decodes it and passes your data on to the internet via Ethernet cable.


Go here to find out how you can boost your Wi-Fi signal or how the internet works.