Wi-Fi: What the acronym really means

Wi-Fi stands for “Wireless Fidelity”, you can look it up everywhere. But is that even true? In an interview, one of those responsible explains what really lies behind the name.

If you look up what “Wi-Fi” means online today, you’ll come across the term “Wireless Fidelity” almost everywhere. “Wireless”, i.e. English for wireless, and “Fidelity”, which can be translated as loyalty, but also accuracy or reliability. But is that even true?

The term “Wi-Fi” came from a non-profit organization now known as the Wi-Fi Alliance and some brand consultants from the Interbrand agency.

The original name for the technology was

IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence”. A bit bulky for everyday use, so a new name was needed. The Interbrand agency suggested ten names, and in the end they agreed on Wi-Fi.

But the name didn’t mean anything at first, as Phil Belanger, founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, revealed in an interview in 2005:

“The only reason you hear about ‘Wireless Fidelity’ is because some of my colleagues in the group were scared. They didn’t understand branding or marketing. They couldn’t imagine using the name ‘Wi-Fi’ , without having any kind of literal explanation,”

like that.

“So we compromised and agreed to use the tagline ‘The Standard for Wireless Fidelity’ along with the name. That was a mistake and only ended up confusing people and watering down the brand.”

So Wi-Fi doesn’t really mean anything at all, but let’s be honest – even the term “wireless fidelity” is rather meaningless. The main thing is that we even have a word for one of the most important technologies of our everyday life.

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