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When answering to the question: “What does Wi-Fi mean?”, many people erroneously say “Wireless Fidelity”. Below we provide the explanation around this misconception.

 

Wi-Fi VS Wireless Fidelity

 

Are you among those people that think that the term “Wi-Fi” is the shortened form of “Wireless Fidelity”? If so, you will be surprised to see that you are wrong.

 

What is Wi-Fi?

 

Indeed, Wi-Fi is not an acronym at all. The term Wi-Fi was created in 1999 by Interbrand, the brand-consulting corporation hired by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization responsible for the promotion of Wi-Fi technology and Wi-Fi product certification. Wi-Fi Alliance decided to adopt this trademark term in order to find a catchier name to replace the overly technical “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence” one.

 

What is Wireless Fidelity?

 

It is interesting to know that the misconception that Wi-Fi is the abbreviation for “Wireless Fidelity”, was actually unintentionally created by the Wi-Fi Alliance itself when Wi-Fi was introduced. This misunderstanding occurred when the organization published a tagline referring to Wi-Fi as “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”, in an attempt to make the meaning of the new developed term more comprehensible for users.

But why exactly did they choose the words “Wireless Fidelity”? According to Phil Belanger, one of the members of WECA – the previous name for Wi-Fi Alliance -, they opted for this term to promote the commercialization of Wi-Fi for the home market. In their opinion, by providing an explanation of the term instead of simply using “Wi-Fi”, which sounded more like an abbreviation, targeted customers would have better got the idea that they could transfer audio and video around their houses. Basically, contrary to popular belief, the name “wireless fidelity” was coined as a result of a promotional aim and not as a way to create the literal meaning of the trademark term Wi-Fi.

Although at the end of 2000, the Wi-Fi alliance provided clarity about this misinformation and eliminated the tagline, the incorrect term is still in use nowadays. Nevertheless, this does not seem to bother the Wi-Fi Alliance as, according to the Managing Director Frank Hanzlik, what is relevant for the organization is that the word “Wi-Fi” is still renowned and widely adopted.

 

 

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