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WIFI: Creating the universal language of connection

Growing global recognition takes the right name

There’s a commonly held misconception about “Wi-Fi” that will probably surprise you. While Wi-Fi has become one of the most commonly-used utilities on the planet, an enduring myth abides: the name Wi-Fi does not stand for Wireless Fidelity, in fact, it doesn’t stand for anything at all…

 

In 1999, before wireless connectivity was commonplace, global technology leaders united to drive the adoption of a single worldwide standard for high-speed wireless networks. However, before they could push for the adoption of this new technology, it needed a name. The technical term was IEEE 802.11, but that just wouldn’t do.

 

The name had to be memorable—something universal you could find in your home, the office, a coffee shop, or on public transit and something that helped consumers intuitively understand the concept.

 

We proposed the name Wi-Fi, as customers told us that its similarities to the already widely understood concept, hi-fi, short for “high fidelity” helped them grasp the concept. The name reflects that, even without cables, Wi-Fi delivers a high-quality, lossless connection wherever you go. Since its launch, Wi-Fi has become globally synonymous with wireless accessibility anywhere. It’s seamlessly entered into languages across the globe —whenever you need wireless internet, you ask for Wi-Fi. From IEEE 802.11 to global recognition, and untethered access. “We were smart to hire Interbrand to come up with the name and logo”, said Wi-Fi Alliance founding member Phil Belanger.

 

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