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TORONTO — It’s constantly around us, even while we travel. At hotels, on motorcoaches, and even in the air 30,000 feet up. Wi-Fi has become a travel necessity in today’s highly-connected world, but what does it even mean?
According to Huffpost, contrary to popular belief, the term does not stand for ‘wireless fidelity’. It actually stands for…absolutely nothing.
First trademarked by Wi-Fi Alliance, formerly known as the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, the term ‘Wi-Fi was hatched by brand consultancy company Interbrand, which was tasked to come up with a catchier name for IEEE 802.11, a set of LAN protocols for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN).
In a 2005 interview with Boing Boing, Wi-Fi Alliance founding member Phil Belanger said Interbrand pitched the company 10 proposed names, one of which was Wi-Fi, an apparent nod to ‘hi-fi’, or ‘high fidelity’.
But fearing that the term wouldn’t catch on without a literal meaning, higher-ups at Wi-Fi Alliance decided to attach the tag line “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity” to the name.
“This was a mistake and only served to confuse people and dilute the brand,” said Belanger, who also noted that ‘wireless fidelity’ doesn’t even mean anything and that the tag line was a “clumsy attempt” to assign actual words to the term ‘Wi-Fi’.
“So we were smart to hire Interbrand to come up with the name and logo. We were dumb to confuse and water down their efforts by adding the meaningless tag line,” he said.
The tag line, which appeared in early communications and swag in the year 2000, was eventually dropped about a year later. And ‘Wi-Fi’ has been a standalone term ever since.
Oh, and one more thing: the official spelling is ‘Wi-Fi’ – NOT wifi.