The Story of Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi

Image: Shutterstock

Move aside Father's Day, World Wi-Fi Day is here on the 20th of June.


Much time has passed since when we looked for telephone booths and rummaged for coins to connect with our kith and kin. In fact, we have gone past grumbling about the connectivity bar on the cellular phone was at full force.

Now we need to be connected all the time; hotels even have 'free dedicated Wi-Fi' as their main feature when listing their rooms.  Many of the rooms are rated on their basis of the 'Wi-Fi strength' since many of us tend to work even from our hotel rooms.

The first question any teenager asks on arrival into a new setting is 'can I please have the Wi-Fi password?'

"My children were holed in the Abu Dhabi airport in a corner where they got two solid lines on the icon on their mobile and were sorted for hours together in our 6-hour layover," Anu Verma, a frequent traveller says.

Image: Wireless Broadband Alliance

Wi-Fi and its humble beginnings

Wi-Fi – is a trademarked name for 'Wireless Fidelity' Standard for the uninitiated.  It is quite something where in the past 20 years, wired communications have seamlessly become wireless.

In 1971, the Hawaiian Islands was connected by ALOHAnet with a UHF wireless packet network. ALOHA protocol were early forerunners to Ethernet and IEEE 802.11 protocols.

Test Bed for wireless local area network developed in 1992 and WaveLAN developed created a standard which was later developed into wireless connection.  Both the Prototype Test Bed and the WaveLAN are now inducted in the Wi-Fi NOW Hall of Fame.  Wi-Fi was initially allowed to transmit 2 Mbps of data wirelessly and Steve Jobs enchanted the crowd when he passed his i-Book through a hula-hoop with no wires and still connected!

In 1999, the Wi-Fi Alliance formed as a trade association to hold the Wi-Fi trademark, all Wi-Fi products are now sold under this trademark however, it was branded AirPort when it was commercially adopted for iBook Series. Wi-Fi now is synonymous to Internet Oxygen.  Today for the technically aligned, we have 802.11ac which is a 5th generation.  With 5G Wi-Fi, we can transmit over 2 billion bits of data in a second. Now we are moving to 5G where we will be transmitting a billion bits of data per second.  A movie that takes 10 seconds now used to take over 2 hours on Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi which was an InterBrand promoted as a pun on the word 'Hi-Fi', the ying-yang logo for Wi-Fi is a product of interoperability.  

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Ubiquitous Wi-Fi icon

The Wi-Fi icon that can be found everywhere from airports, to bus stops, hotel lobbies to public and private establishments, it serves as an invitation to connect to a wireless access to the internet. The three lines on top of a little point, which sparks instant relief in any generation has an interesting evolution as well.  

"Nothing says 'wireless' quite like this ubiquitous icon: three curved lines sitting atop a little point. An illusion of movement arises from the increasing size of the curves and the space between them. It looks almost like a wireless transmission were being sent out into space. As the waves are sent out, they become larger and larger, reaching not only one intended receiver but any number of unknown receivers who might together form an audience.

"Omnipresence, overcoming borders, and universal accessibility - these common impressions of wireless connectivity are what the wireless icon makes visible." Erik Born

Read more about History of the Wi-Fi icon.

Penetration powered by connection!

Over 10 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices have been shipped worldwide till date and it's only peaking.   As more and more gadgets connect to Wi-Fi from lights, to locks, to cars the demand is only going to increase. There is also the 'Internet of Things' phenomenon which has an immense impact on health, social and remote access provision.

Image: Wireless Broadband Alliance

The appetite for wireless has by no means peaked. Analysts predict that by 2019, another 15 billion Wi-Fi.

Source: Wikipedia

There are over 180 providers of WiFi along with innumerable manufacturers supporting the Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Connecting the Future!

Image: Shutterstock

802.11ax allows for many devices to be supported and 802.11ad extends the use of the 60 GHz spectrum by generating speeds of 7 million bits per second.  11.af will improve coverage and add additional remote access.   The number of versions the Wi-Fi has seen in a short span of time proves that what started with one single point like its logo spreads far and wide.  The technology is developing fast, and the use of Wi-Fi is expanding to specific requirements by different industries and requirements.

Read more about the interesting history and versions of the past and the future.

The view with the additional work in Wi-Fi extendibility is looking to bridge the digital divide and have an immense social impact. To become a part of the Wi-Fi day and to know more click here.

About the author:
Uma currently works as a delivery lead in a leading bank managing anti-money laundering projects. She started her career setting up and managing data centers and disaster recovery centers moving on to setting up niche healthcare business analysis teams. She would like to share her experiences and best practices across industries in view of a common user. The comments reflect the author's views and not the bank or Sify's.

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