What Does WiFi Stand For: Real Meaning & Working Principle [MiniTool Wiki]

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The name WiFi, also written as Wi-Fi, Wifi, or wifi, has no further meaning. It was never shortened for “Wireless Fidelity” officially. Yet, the WiFi Alliance used the advertising slogan “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity” for a short time after the brand name WiFi was created. Also, the Wi-Fi Alliance is called the “Wireless Fidelity Alliance Inc” in some publications.

Originally, WiFi was only used in place of the 2.4 GHz 802.11b standard. Later, WIFI Alliance expanded the generic use of the term to include any kind of network or WLAN product based on any of the 802.11 standards, including 802.11b, 802.11a, dual-band, etc. attempting to stop confusion about wireless LAN interoperability.

How Does the Name “WiFi” Come From?

The name “WiFi” was coined by Interbrand, a brand-consulting firm, and was used commercially at least as early as August 1999. The WiFi Alliance hired Interbrand to create a name that was “a little catchier than ‘IEEE 802.11B Direct Sequence’”. Phi Belanger, a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, stated that the term WiFi was chosen from a list of 10 potential names invented by Interbrand.

Interbrand also created the WiFi logo. The yin-yang wifi logo means the certification of a product for interoperability.

WiFi Certified Logo

How to Connect to a WiFi?

In order to connect to Wi-Fi, a computer must have a wireless network interface controller (WNIC). The combination of an interface controller and a computer is called a station. Stations are identified by one or more media access control addresses (MAC address).

WiFi nodes usually operate in infrastructure mode where all communications go through a base station. Ad hoc mode refers to devices talking directly to each other without the need to first talk to an access point.

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A service set is the set of all the devices that is related to a particular WiFi network. Those devices don’t have to be on the same wavebands or channels. A service set can be local, extended, mesh, independent, or a combination of them.  

Each service set has a related identifier. The 32-byte Service Set Identifier (SSID) identifies the particular network. The SSID is configured within the devices that are considered a necessary part of the network.

While a Basic Service Set (BSS) is a group of stations that all share the same wireless channel, SSID, as well as other wireless settings that have the same access point. Each BSS is identified by a MAC address that is known as the BSSID.

Tip: Non-WiFi technologies intended for fixed points like Motorola Canopy are usually called fixed wireless. Alternative wireless technologies include mobile phone standards, including 5G, 4G, 3G, 2G, and LTE.

How Does WiFi Work?

WiFi stations communicate with each other by sending data packets. Blocks of data are individually sent and delivered over the radio. As with all radio, this is done by the modulating and demodulating of carrier waves.

Different versions of WiFi make use of different techniques. For example, 802.11b uses direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) on a single carrier, while 802.11a, WiFi 4, 5, and 6 adopt multiple carriers on slightly different frequencies within the channel, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM).

For other IEEE 802 LANs, stations come programmed with a globally unique 48-bit MAC address. Therefore, each WiFi station has a unique address. The MAC addresses are used to specify both the source and the destination of each packet.

WiFi establishes link-level connections that can be defined using both source and destination addresses. On the reception of a transmission, the receiver uses the destination address to decide whether the transmission is relevant to the station or not. If not, the transmission should be ignored.

Tip: usually, a network interface doesn’t accept packets addressed to other WiFi stations.

Since WiFi becomes more and more popular and the cost of the hardware needed to set up wifi is ever-decreasing, many computer manufacturers now integrate Wi-Fi interfaces directly into computer motherboards. Thus, users don’t have to install a separate network card anymore.

When communication happens on the same channel, any info sent by on computer is locally received by all computers though the info is intended for only 1 target computer. the network interface card (NIC) interrupts the CPU only when applicable packets are received. If the info is not addressed to a computer, the computer’s network NIC card will ignore it.

Channels are used half-duplex. It can be time-shared by multiple networks. The use of the same channel indicates that the data bandwidth is also shared. For instance, available data bandwidth to each device is halved when 2 stations are actively transmitting.

Carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance (CSMA/CA) is a scheme that governs the way stations share channels. Relying on CSMA/CA, stations can avoid collisions by starting transmission only after a station receives multiple signals on a channel at the same time.

However, CSMA/CA sometimes can corrupt the transmitted data and require stations to re-transmit. Occasionally, the re-transmission can severely reduce throughput.

OK, that is all about the WiFi it will talk about here. If you want to learn more information about the wireless network, just search your topic on this website. Have a good day!

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