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wireless fidelity

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Wireless fidelity is frequently but incorrectly thought to be the full version of the term Wi-Fi, which refers to the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11 wireless LAN standards

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi is not an abbreviation. However, it is a play on words based on hi-fi, which was short for high-fidelity (a generic term for high-quality audio reproduction). 

In 1999, the Alliance -- then known as Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) -- hired the marketing company Interbrand to come up with a logo and a catchier name for IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence. Wi-Fi was chosen from a list that included Trapeze, Skybridge, Hornet and Dragonfly

According to founding member Phil Belanger, the WECA board members felt that the name needed some explanation. The tag line "The Standard for Wireless Fidelity" was created. However, as Belanger explained, the tag line only created confusion: Neither WECA nor the Wi-Fi Alliance was ever responsible for developing standards and the term "wireless fidelity" is meaningless. 

This was last updated in April 2014

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