What Is a WiFi Number?
By Ellis Davidson
There is no technical definition for the term "WiFi number," but there are several numbers that are intrinsic to WiFi operation. The most likely meaning for a WiFi number is the channel used for wireless operation, but other numbers may be set in WiFi settings, assigned by WiFi routers or determined by WiFi hardware.
WiFi Channel Number
All WiFi connections take place over a channel, which can be thought of as similar to a station on a radio dial. WiFi channels range from one to 11, and are each assigned to a range of frequencies within the 2.4 GHz radio range used by all WiFi connections. The WiFi channel is set in the preferences of the router hardware, and prevents interference from other WiFi routers in the immediate area. During setup, choose the channel that provides the clearest signal to receiving devices. WiFi scanning software can tell you which channels are currently in use by other WiFi routers; multiple routers can use the same channel, but it is best to use the channel that is least used and as distant as possible from other channels in use. For example, if there is heavy usage on channels one, six and 11, good choices would be channels four or nine.
WiFi IP Address
Most WiFi routers assign a range of Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses to the wireless devices that connect to them. An IP address is a series of four numbers between zero and 255. Several of these numeric ranges have been set aside for creating local area networks; the router assigns itself the first number in this range, then allocates an IP number to every wireless device on the network. Most commonly, the router's IP number is 192.168.1.1, with wireless devices starting at 192.168.1.2 and going up, or between, a range of 192.168.1.50 and 192.168.1.100.
WiFi is a high-frequency radio signal that can pass through solid objects, but various materials can create dead zones and deflection areas where the signal is weaker or nonexistent. The actual range depends entirely on the power of the transmitting router, the antennas on the wireless devices and the materials used in any intervening obstacles. In practice, a single router is typically able to provide coverage for a small house or office. Range extenders are available that can theoretically make a single WiFi network as large as necessary.
Maximum WiFi Connections
Some WiFi routers have hard limits on the number of computers that can connect at any one time, such as five or eight devices. Other routers allow as many connections as are attempted by wireless users, but reliability and speed may degrade when the number of connected computers exceed the hardware capabilities of the router.
Ellis Davidson has been a self-employed Internet and technology consultant, entrepreneur and author since 1993. He has written a book about self-employment for recent college graduates and is a regular contributor to "Macworld" and the TidBITS technology newsletter. He is completing a book on self-employment options during a recession. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Arts in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.