Wireless communication is the transfer of information over a distance without the use of electrical conductors or "wires". The distances involved may be short (a few meters as in television remote control) or long (thousands or millions of kilometers for radio communications). When the context is clear, the term is often shortened to "wireless". Wireless communication is generally considered to be a branch of telecommunications.
It encompasses various types of fixed, mobile, and portable two-way radios, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking. Other examples of wireless technology include GPS units, garage door openers and or garage doors, wireless computer mice, keyboards and headsets, satellite television and cordless telephones.
The term "wireless" has become a generic and all-encompassing word used to describe communications in which electromagnetic waves or RF (rather than some form of wire) carry a signal over part or the entire communication path.
The term "wireless" should not be confused with the term "cordless", which is generally used to refer to powered electrical or electronic devices that are able to operate from a portable power source (e.g. a battery pack) without any cable or cord to limit the mobility of the cordless device through a connection to the mains power supply. Some cordless devices, such as cordless telephones, are also wireless in the sense that information is transferred from the cordless telephone to the telephone's base unit via some type of wireless communications link. This has caused some disparity in the usage of the term "cordless", for example in Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications.
Wi-Fi (for wireless fidelity) is a wireless LAN technology that enables laptop PC's, PDA's, and other devices to connect easily to the internet. Technically known as IEEE 802.11 a,b,g,n, Wi-Fi is less expensive and nearing the speeds of standard Ethernet and other common wire-based LAN technologies. Several Wi-Fi hot spots have been popular over the past few years. Some businesses charge customers a monthly fee for service, while others have begun offering it for free in an effort to increase the sales of their goods.
Many scientists have complained that wireless technology interferes with their experiments, forcing them to use less optimal peripherals because the optimum one is not available in a wired version. This has become especially prevalent among scientists who use trackballs as the number of models in production steadily decreases.