Wi-Fi is the abbreviated term for “wireless fidelity.” It is actually a pun on the term “hi-fi” or high fidelity, which was once the global standard for wireless networking technology. It is sometimes spelled as WiFi or wifi.
Wi-fi, however, uses the 802.11 standard, pioneered in 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and then promoted by the trade group Wi-Fi Alliance, which aims to achieve greater commercialization of the technology.
Most people are familiar with the wi-fi network. In essence, computers are equipped with wi-fi network cards, which enable them to connect to the Internet without the need for any cords. Instead, there is a virtual connection achieved through the use of a cable or a DSL modem.
However, the network has limitations. The wi-fi network can only work within an average of 200 feet or approximately 61 meters. However, performance or speed usually deteriorates after 100 feet. To resolve this problem some retailers provide wireless signal boosters.
Open wi-fi networks allow anyone to tap into them. Closed wi-fi networks require a password. Multiple networks in a given area can create a wi-fi blanket that allow internet access across large distances—for example, a building, group of buildings, or even entire cities like San Francisco, Portland and Philadelphia. These places are called “wireless hotspots.”
There are current efforts to increase wi-fi capability and expand the network range from 300 feet to 600 feet. Another challenge is to increase the speed of data tansfer, particularly now that videostreaming has become popular.