Wi-Fi Doesn't Actually Stand For Anything

Considering how much you probably use Wi-Fi, it might be pretty shocking to realize you don't even have a clue what it means. It's wireless internet, sure, but where did that term come from? Surely the "Wi" part means wireless, and the "Fi" then must mean... err... Finternet? Surprise: Wi-Fi is a nonsense word that doesn't mean anything and doesn't stand for anything.

Phil Belanger, a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance who was part of the selection process for the term "Wi-Fi," confirmed this fact. Belanger and the other founding members of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (now the Wi-Fi Alliance) hired the company Interbrand to create a name and logo for their wireless internet technology, and they landed on "Wi-Fi." A number of the Wi-Fi Alliance squad were confused by this gibberish term and tried to make sense of it so consumers wouldn't be quite so confused. They decided to add the tagline "The Standard for Wireless Fidelity" along with the name Wi-Fi in marketing communications. Eventually, that tagline was dropped. "'Wireless Fidelity'—what does that mean? Nothing. It was a clumsy attempt to come up with two words that matched Wi and Fi. That's it," Belanger is quoted as saying on BoingBoing. Get more Wi-Fi history in the video below.

What Does Wi-Fi Stand For?

Short answer: Nothing.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The term Wi-Fi doesn't mean or stand for anything, it is a made-up phrase. 00:24

  2. Wi-Fi was almost called Trapeze instead. 01:26

How Does Wi-Fi Work?

We all probably use it every day, but do you know how it works?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Ethernet allows data to be converted into an electrical signal carried by a wire. The data is carried through radio waves when using Wi-Fi. 00:37

  2. To avoid interference, Wi-Fi signals are transmitted at one of two frequencies, 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz. 01:02

  3. TCP/IP is the protocol in which an image is broken down into smaller packets, directed into the receiving router and reassembled to form the image. 01:17

Li-Fi, 100 Times Faster Than Wi-Fi

So, when can we start using it?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Wi-Fi was accidentally invented in 1992. 00:14

  2. Light has a frequency range 10,000X greater than radio waves. 01:19

  3. Watch Dr. Harald Haas use a lightbulb to stream a video: 03:24

Can We Use Wi-Fi To See Through Walls?

Not the original intention of Wi-Fi, but, hey...

Written by Curiosity Staff November 18, 2016

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