POS Wi-Fi Standards: How to find your way around

April 16, 2018

The term "wifi", "wi-fi" or "Wi-Fi" comes from "Wireless Fidelity".

Historically, Wi-Fi networks have continued to improve since the first standard was released in 1999 until today. The result is better output, increased range and greater security: improvements that benefit point-of-sale terminals as well as "Mobile POS" and tablets used by in-store sales forces.  

The promise to remove cables and wires to build mobile local area networks was embraced by users as soon as the first computers, terminals and Wi-Fi access points appeared on the market. Today, most IT hardware and devices are equipped with this technology. The term is actually the trade name for the first-ever 802.11 standard for wireless networks.

In 1999, when Wi-Fi products were introduced, their range did not exceed 10 meters with no obstacle (the standard sometimes worked poorly in the presence of thick walls, for example). At that time, the low Wi-Fi throughput did not allow the broadcasting of videos. Then, the 802.11a and b standards made it possible to improve range and throughput.

In 2003, the new 802.11g standard enabled the increase of both; but the major qualitative leap was nevertheless made in 2006 thanks to the 802.11n standard. Video broadcasting then became possible, even over a longer distance and with much greater speed; and above all, the new standard eliminated numerous obstacles in closed places (such as furniture, objects, etc.) which previously lowered performance.

The latest 802.11ac standard, which was formalized in 2014, allows theoretical data rates of 7 Gbit/s and optimal management of simultaneous connections of up to 8 users.

This better approach to connection modes is based on two elements: on the one hand, it allows Wi-Fi access points to direct radio waves precisely towards POS terminals; on the other, the implementation of Mu-Mimo technology enables these local access points to communicate with several POS systems simultaneously, rather than in turn.

Increasingly powerful wireless connections between M.POS, tablets and POS

At the point of sale, the AURES SWING mobile POS is equipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi in 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, in order to communicate with other POS hardware  (such as SANGO or YUNO for example) in a totally "seamless" way, or with Retail PC platforms of the INEOS type, as well as all other POS peripherals.

Simply add a Wi-Fi card to the mini PC Express port.  With the latest 802.11ac standard, which is already present on recent Internet access points, it is easy to manage all POS systems and other mobile terminals connected even more efficiently.

The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is already available on high-end smartphones and tablets and will gradually be deployed on all AURES professional mobile terminals and POS equipment.

On the security side, WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2) - which replaced the previous WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) protocols - provides better protection for connections between store access points.

It thus prevents unwanted third parties from connecting to the wireless network (at the local point of sale) and codes data sent over the airwaves, with very complex passwords that can contain up to 63 characters.

Ultimately, this ever-increasing security of wireless networks will make it possible to avoid hacking and other "cracking"; the integrity of communications and the accuracy of authentication of the various POS equipment and other devices will be reinforced, for optimized protection.

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