Long gone are the days of dial-up and waiting for your turn to use the computer. It’s easier than ever to connect to the Internet, in more ways than one, in the digital world today. This is mostly thanks to Wi-Fi.
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is a wireless network that uses radio frequency signals to connect to the Internet or send messages between devices, without wires. Everything from your phone and laptop to tablets and printers can use Wi-Fi, thanks to these waves. In 1997, a committee of industry leaders approved a common, more compatible Wi-Fi standard. Two years later, a group of companies formed the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA, now the Wi-Fi Alliance), a global nonprofit organization created to promote the new wireless standard, according to the Britannica.
What does Wi-Fi stand for?
None of that history explains what Wi-Fi stands for, because the phrase doesn’t stand for anything. Wi-Fi is a trademarked term describing the device or technology based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) wireless communication standard 802.11, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance. That’s a mouthful, so the Wi-Fi Alliance hired the marketing company Interbrand to come up with another name: Wi-Fi, according to one of the founding Alliance members.
There’s some debate surrounding the question, what does Wi-Fi stand for. The rumor that it stands for “Wireless Fidelity” is thanks to the Alliance. Some members didn’t understand the branding or marketing for Wi-Fi. They felt consumers would want an explanation for the name. So the Alliance agreed to include a tag line: The Standard for Wireless Fidelity. That’s why so many people assume Wi-Fi stands for wireless fidelity, but the tagline came after the name. Plus, the Alliance removed the tag, although the confusion it brought still lives on today.