Wi-Fi is the marketing name for the IEEE standard 802.11 and it has become a mainstay for devices such as laptops, smartphones, e-book readers and other electronic devices. It is becoming increasingly available in public areas through a large, growing network of Wi-Fi hotspots, including retail locations such as coffee shops as well municipal hotspots in airports and libraries. AT&T currently has thousands of hotspots nationwide.
Wi-Fi coverage is localized because of the limited range of the 802.11b/g/n standard (around 120 feet indoors). As a result, Wi-Fi is viewed mainly as an augmentation to cellular services. AT&T and other operators include Wi-Fi hotspot network access as part of their 3G data plans.
Wi-Fi is well suited for high-volume data transfers to handsets that might otherwise exceed users' data plans, and for applications such as VoIP that work best with low latency connections. A number of AT&T devices, including the AT&T Tilt and the Apple iPhone 4, 5, or 6, have built-in Wi-Fi that enable users to connect to social networking websites and other applications for viewing videos and downloading music. Additionally, there are a number of application types today that leverage a Wi-Fi connection to enable gaming between two mobile devices. On the VoIP front, some applications fully leverage the Wi-Fi bandwidth even though they are limited to smartphones. With Wi-Fi becoming more prevalent in mobile phones, we can expect more bandwidth-heavy applications to be developed for mobile devices. The following table gives an idea about the amount of bandwidth consumed by different types of applications
|Internet streaming video||2 Mbps|
|Standard Definition TV||4 Mbps|
|Video conferencing||3 Mbps|
|Distance learning||3 Mbps|
|Basic high-speed Internet||5 Mbps|
|Multimedia Web interaction||10 Mbps|
|High-Definition TV||9 Mbps|
|Enterprise applications||1 to 10 Mbps|