If you thought the meaning of Wi-Fi was wireless fidelity, think again
Phil Belanger, the founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, has recently revealed the true meaning of Wi-Fi as he recounted the events of its origin and how the name was picked by the consultancy firm Interbrand. The Wi-Fi Alliance was aware that the original naming convention “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence” couldn’t be utilized. “Wi-Fi” was then selected because they needed a catchier name if the standard was to be extensively used.
Belanger recalls that several of his coworkers felt the need to clarify the meaning of Wi-Fi since they seemed unable to comprehend that the moniker was merely marketing speak designed to pique interest. As a result, the Wi-Fi Alliance adopted the slogan “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”.
“This was a mistake and only served to confuse people,” Belanger acknowledged, and continued to state that it was
“a clumsy attempt to come up with two words that matched Wi and Fi.” The Wi-Fi Alliance printed hats and shirts coining the phrase, which made the mistake worse. Because of the tagline’s popularity, the US military even started using the term “wireless fidelity”, further popularizing it.
Technically speaking, fidelity relates to how accurately a device can duplicate a signal. For instance, high fidelity televisions are enabled to display real, life-looking visuals. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, merely serves as a means of wirelessly tying gadgets together. Nothing is being reproduced.
If you were to ask, a majority of people would still believe that Wi-Fi stands for wireless fidelity, but Belanger asks people to “forget the tagline” as it’s incorrect. So remember that Wi-Fi stands for IEEE 802.11, even if the popular misconception will exist, most likely forever.