What does Wi-Fi Stand for | Meaning, History, Work, Applications, Versions

What does Wi-Fi Stand for?

This article will provide you all the information related to Wi-Fi technology. Here we will answer your question on “What does Wi-Fi stand for“.

If Wi-Fi is not internet or Wireless Fidelity, then what exactly is Wi-Fi, and how does it work?

Today, wherever we go, whether it is a restaurant, hotels, malls, institutions, or any public places, we come across a symbol of Wi-Fi.

We also use Wi-Fi in our home and at our workplace. While we use Wi-Fi regularly, there is a probability of finding a good number of users who don’t know its true meaning and how does it work.

A common myth amongst the users is that Wi-Fi is a synonym for the Internet.

It is also been wrongly understood it to be as Wireless Fidelity, and this has spread so widely that many companies have also included this expanded form in their official communications.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is similar to wireless technology, or more precisely a telecommunication technology that uses radio waves to send/receive digital signals (data).

It creates a network for these devices to exchange information with each other.

It also allows for the computer, mobile, and other devices such as laptops, smartphones, video cameras, printers to have an interface with the internet.

For internet connectivity, the devices have to be connected to a wireless router. 

It is commonly known as Wireless Local Area Network that allows the Local Area Networks to work without any kind of wire or cables.

The Wi-Fi Alliance (formerly Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance) appointed a consulting firm – Interbrand to create a marketing name for their technological name 802.11b since it was found to be somewhat challenging to be accepted by the customers.

Interbrand invented the terms Wi-Fi that sounded similar to hi-fi. 

How does Wi-Fi Work?

As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi is not the internet. Yes, it is used by the laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices to access the internet, in reality, Wi-Fi is used to connect your devices with a router or any other access point that provides access to the internet.

In short, it creates a wireless connection for devices and not to the internet.

All the devices on a Local wireless network can exchange information with each other including file sharing, print any document, or view videos from the digital cameras without connecting it with any wire or cables. 

The three essential components or elements of a wireless network are the Radio waves or signals, router, and antenna.

The radio waves are transmitted at defined frequency range, normally at 2.4GHZ and 5 GHz by routers and antennas.

These signals travel in the air and are received by the devices having Wi-Fi support or Wi-Fi cards. For example, your laptop, smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs.

When these devices are within the specified distance range from routers or access points, they get connected over the network creating a Wireless Local Area Network.

The range depends on the location of the router, whether indoor or outdoor.

Every frequency range comprises of multiple channels compatible with wireless devices to help reduce the congestion of their signals or by interruption of other traffic.

What is the history of wi-fi?

The history of wireless technology is much longer than you can think.

The revolutionization in technology that gave birth to the wireless internet was conceptualized by Nikola Tesla in 1929.

She predicted that future people will be able to make wireless communication with handy devices that perfectly fit in their pockets.

Several theories and unexpected beginnings of various terms came up until 1971 when Norman Abramson at Hawaii developed the first network to use radio communications also known as Additive Links Online Hawaii Area Network (ALOHAnet) that are also the predecessors of the Ethernet or 802.11 standards.

The first wireless setup was done by NCR / AT & T in the Netherlands in 1991. It has been a controversial point about Australia labeling itself as the inventor of Wi-Fi. 

The first standards of 802.11 were released in 199,7 having a speed of 2Mbps and the formation of the Wi-fi alliance in 1999 to take care of the Wi-Fi trademark, promote the technology development, and a certification process for the companies who wish to sell their products under Wi-Fi certified logo.

Later there have been various versions released, and the future is Wi-Fi 6, which is claimed to be a big revolutionizing in the Wi-Fi technology.

What are the different versions of wi-fi?

The Wi-Fi has evolved with different versions in the last 2 decades, since its inception. In the past, the versions were generally known by their technical name (IEEE standards).

It was in 2018 when the Wi-Fi alliance decided to rename the generations using a simple and standardized numbering system, to facilitate the equipment manufacturer mention the version of Wi-Fi supported on their equipment.

For instance, if equipment supports Wi-Fi 4, it means that it supports 802.11n. 

There have been many intermediate versions, but we shall touch upon the major ones.

The first version 802.11b (Wi-Fi 1) released in 1999 supports a bandwidth of 11 Mbps with a frequency range of 2.4 GHz. 

Several other versions have been released and the last three being Wi-Fi 4(802.11n), Wi-Fi 5(802.11ac), and Wi-Fi 6(802.11ax) having the frequency transmission rate of 2.4 to 5 GHz. The data transfer speed is up to 10 Gpbs for the latest version (Wi-Fi 6).

The modern-day devices are using either Wi-Fi 4, 5 and the latest being Wi-Fi 6 versions.

However, Wi-Fi 6 is a breakthrough in the Wi-Fi standard and has changed the way of Wi-Fi working.

It is going to offer a seamless experience over the web and data flow will be with fewer delays.

The data transfer will improve significantly and will provide relief and give better performances in crowded areas.

The routers at home will be able to connect around 6-8 devices at one time.

What are the applications of Wi-Fi?

  • The number of users utilizing Wi-Fi has increased manifold in the last decade. It has become a suitable option for our home and business networks because Local area networks can get connected without any wires or cables.
  • Today, any product comes with inbuilt smart technology and is heavily dependent on the Wi-Fi connectivity offered by Wireless router for stable internet. Talk about smartphones, which support the Wi-Fi, it also provides wireless broadband connectivity, for the laptops, desktops, consoles, etc. The Wi-Fi connectivity for computers can be achieved with the help of Dongles, just plug into the USB port, and you are good to go.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) has been quite popular in the last few years. For instance, Smart TVs, Refrigerators, Cameras, and other electronic devices come with inbuilt support for the Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • The modern-day printers and scanners come with the option of printing on the Wi-Fi network, it means you can give a print command from your laptop, or even smartphones, tablets connected in the given network without any cables or wires. The gaming consoles, digital music systems or radios, also use the Wi-Fi technology.
  • Common areas like Hotels, Bookstore, Coffee shop, airports, and railway stations provide Wi-Fi access called Hotspots. Any device, which has inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity, or is Wi-Fi-enabled can access the Internet via Hotspot. Some cities or specific regions have been provisioned with a free Wi-Fi network across the entire city or covers a specific area.
  • In short, the applications of Wi-Fi are countless, considering the varied collections of linked services.  
  • You can also find some devices that use radio waves similar to the Wi-Fi spectrum, but cannot be termed as Wi-Fi as they cannot facilitate the connectivity with the internet in a similar way. These devices are called as Wi-Fi neighboring devices. Remember the early smart devices used Zigbee for making the communications; however, it is very rare in the current times. Bluetooth is a classic example using the 2.4GHz frequency, similar to that used by Wi-Fi, but for connecting two short-range devices. Wi-Fi direct is the latest one that provides direct connectivity using Wi-Fi signals without connecting over a LAN.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Wi-Fi?

Wire technology or networks was considered more secured in the past when compared to the Wireless networks.

However, the continual developments in the Wireless technology and the Wi-Fi 6 version have not only enhanced the speed and security but provided seamless connectivity between multiple devices.

Advantages:

  • Unlike a wired network, the wireless network allows free movement of users within the networked area. It means, you can roam with your laptop, Smartphone, or any other handheld devices and still gain access to the internet provided you are in the network area. 
  • It also enables the sharing of files between the devices connected over a WLAN.
  • The setting up of Wi-Fi is very easy. There is no need of laying complex cables giving an advantage of time-saving and the most important factor cost. The addition of new devices is also hassle-free.
  • Having Wi-Fi connectivity at your restaurant or cafe can attract more business as the customers love using wireless networks.
  • The downloading of any large media file such as a movie or uploading your photos, videos on the social platforms can be faster using the Wi-Fi as compared to the Mobile Internet.

Disadvantages:

  • It will require extra equipment for setting up. However, the modern routers come with inbuilt Wi-Fi capacity like the new laptops, smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs, other electronic devices that also have this feature.
  • It requires experienced engineers with computer knowledge to set up wireless connections. This is also an issue in the wired connection network.
  • The file-sharing over the Wi0Fi can be slower than the wired network. The speed also varies based on your location and distance to the network. It means the speed will reduce when you move away from the router and increase when you are near tot he router.
  • The Wi-Fi signals can get obstructed by walls, ceiling, household items, and furniture.
  • Wireless technology is relatively less stable and secured. There are chances of adjacent building users stealing and using your bandwidth for internet access if you have not secured the connection with passwords.
  • Wi-Fi generates harmful radiation causing harm to living beings. 

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the wireless Access Point?

A WAP (wireless access point) is a point that amplifies the bandwidth of router to allow wireless devices to connect to the network without the use of any kind of cable or wires, even if they are at some distance from the router.

In other words, it functions similarly to the amplifier for your home stereo. 

What is a mobile hotspot?

The modern-day smartphones come with a common feature of Mobile hotspot. Once this feature is turned on in your mobile phone, other wireless devices can access the internet through your phone’s shared wireless network connection.

What are the key differences between a Modem and a Router?

A modem is a device that allows you to connect to the Internet and is generally provided by your Internet service provider.

A router is connected with the modem via cable and distributes the internet connection over your local Wi-Fi network to enable all the wireless devices in the network to access the internet. 

What is the full form of IEEE?

The full form of IEEE for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering

What is 802.11?

802.11 are set of standards developed by IEEE for WLANs. It is some set of protocols that talks about the communications occurring on the Wi-Fi network on different frequencies.

How to get Wi-Fi certification for your product?

To get the certification, your product needs to pass the required tests and criteria specified by the Wi-Fi alliance.

The primary tests include your product being tested for its compatibility to run with other products of the same or different manufacturers and also meet the security protocols.

The Wi-Fi certified products have demonstrated their capability of working with other products in any given simulated network conditions to ensure that they will run in the actual scenario.

What is the difference between Built-in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi enabled?

Built-in Wi-Fi devices have the required hardware already built in their system while the Wi-Fi enabled devices to have slots to plug in the Wi-Fi card or adapter.

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