Wi-Fi (noun) Short for “wireless fidelity.” Used generically to refer to any type of 802.11 wireless Internet network.

Access included

In the past, wireless access was as simple as sliding a card into a slot on the side of a PC. Now, it's even easier: Most new PCs have Wi-Fi cards built in. The card acts like a radio transmitter and receiver. All you need is an access point (an antenna, in old-speak) that is connected by wire to the Internet.

Makes a great gift!

Your high-tech attendees might enjoy this unusual gift: the Kensington Wi-Fi Finder. Push a button and the handheld gadget will detect whether there is a hot spot within 200 feet. Retails for about $25.

Feel like a number?

Bill Clark, research director in mobile and wireless for Gartner, says that by 2008, there will be more than 75 million users worldwide of wireless LAN hot spots. By then, there will be 160,000 global hot spots. Sooner, and closer to home, he estimates that U.S. hot spots will explode to 53,500 by 2005.

The price is right

Omni Hotels plans to offer free wireless high-speed Internet access in guest rooms and some public spaces in 30 of its 32 owned and managed properties by the end of the year. Repeat: Free guest room Wi-Fi.

You want fries with that?

McDonald's joined with Boingo Wireless and Wayport this summer in a pilot program that put Wi-Fi in 70 San Francisco area restaurants. That's still a long way behind T-Mobile, which offers Wi-Fi access in more than 2,000 Starbucks, Borders, and airports. And by year's end, Verizon will have converted 1,000 pay phones across New York City into neighborhood hot spots.

Wi-Fi defined

Short for “wireless fidelity.” Wi-Fi is used generically in reference to any 802.11 network. 802.11 refers to a family of specifications (802.11b, 802.11a, etc.) for the over-the-air interface between a wireless client and a base station or between two wireless clients. A hot spot is simply a specific location with a Wi-Fi access point. A single access point often has a range of 300 feet and can support 25 or more users.

Sources: www.kensington.com; www.omnihotels.com; Wireless Review; William Clark, research director in mobile and wireless, Gartner, www.gartner.com; The New York Times; www.webopedia.com

Do you want to get the last word in? Send your ideas to shatch@primediabusiness.com