We’ve recently had a few questions about wireless devices. We had one question about wireless headphones, and one about setting up a wireless router. I have some news for you. Pretty much every wireless device requires at least one wire, and typically more than one.
Let’s talk about that wireless router. In this case, “wireless” is really referring to the signal produced. The router itself will have at least 2 wires. One wire for AC power plugged into an electrical socket, and one wire plugged into the Ethernet (or even the phone line) in your house, going from the modem/router to the wall. Why? Well, the Internet signal the router uses has to come from somewhere. Once you’re connected to that signal, THEN the wireless signal can be broadcast out to your devices. Both your wired and wireless devices use the same connection, but it has to be plugged in with wires somewhere.
Most wireless headphones or speakers generally need some sort of wire. If the device is battery powered, you won’t need a power source, but it will likely require a transmitter to be plugged into the device you’re trying to get sound from, like a stereo or computer. However, the headphones or speakers themselves will be wireless and will work within a certain range of the transmitter. (Also note that this wireless is different than Wi-Fi you receive through a modem.) If they don’t require a transmitter, it may use an infrared system which would require you to be in direct sight of the audio source at all times. If you have a surround sound system, even with wireless, each of those speakers has to be powered, so you likely have a least one wire coming from each speaker.
Let’s move on to your wireless mouse or keyboard. While these may not require a wire themselves, almost all of these devices will require a receiver to be plugged in, likely into a USB port. It’s not just automatically recognized when you put in the batteries, the device has to know what it is communicating with. And a computer requires… you guessed it, wires! Even a laptop has to be plugged in now and then, to recharge.
Even your cell phone needs wires, not just to charge, but to connect using a cellular connection. To use the cellular network (3G or 4G), a cell phone finds signals broadcast from towers. These towers are connected, under the ground, to the existing wired telephone network.
So the long and the short of it is, every wireless device requires wires somewhere along the line. When you’re out in that coffee shop, connected to their free Wi-Fi, a router is connected to the wall somewhere along the line. Any time you’re out and about and using your cell phone on the Internet, you’re connecting to wires somewhere in the process. You may not see them, but somewhere along the line, wires are involved.