Wi-Fi® is not Wireless Fidelity

Garin Livingstone and Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Wi-Fi is not an abbreviation for wireless fidelity1; it is a trademarked phrase that refers to wireless communication between electronic devices and a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11x standards.

Wi-Fi is brought to us by the Wi-Fi Alliance®, a worldwide network of companies with the mission to drive the adoption and evolution of Wi-Fi globally.  The Wi-Fi Alliance tests and certifies that WLAN equipment meets its stated standards.

Current standards include:

  • 11g
  • 11n
  • 11ag

Speeds have grown substantially, now rocketing up to a potential 1,300Mbps using the latest WiGig™, 802.11ac, standard (although actual performance is typically significantly less than its potential).


At their core; wireless networks are less secure than wired networks (since a potential intruders does not need a physical connection), although encryption technologies (Wi-Fi Protected Access or WPA and WPA2) exist to secure WLANs.

Large-scale Wi-Fi implementations include:

  • City-wide Wi-Fi – Free Wi-Fi provided in St. Cloud, FL, Sunnyvale, CA, etc.
  • Campus-wide Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi throughout a campus environment

1See ‘Wireless Fidelity’ Debunked by Naomi Graychase of WiFi Planet.

2See WikipediA IEEE 802.11.