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Wireless Fidelity: a networking system which enables a wireless connection between an electronic device and the Internet
'Very few people know about it now, but there's a "hot spot" in downtown Albany that gives laptop users free high-speed Internet access. … Wireless Internet, known as WiFi – for wireless fidelity – is growing rapidly across the country. A big WiFi launch party is scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Omni Plaza Beaver Street courtyard where people can roam the Internet from a picnic table.'The Business Review 20th August 2004
'Many public WiFiers are salespeople or other professionals on the move, who just can't bring themselves to stop working during lunch …'The Guardian 25th July 2003
In 2003, Brighton became the first seaside resort in the UK where, in addition to a walk on the pier, sunbathing on the beach or a meal of fish and chips, visitors could surf the Net as well as the waves during their day out. This is all made possible by the new technology of Wireless Fidelity or WiFi, a form of wireless connection to the Internet.
a location which is WiFi-enabled is situated within a wireless Internet 'cloud'
WiFi is a high-speed wireless networking standard which enables transmission of high-bandwidth video and multimedia information. In order to make connections from electronic devices such as laptops, mobile phones and PDAs, users must enter a location which is WiFi-enabled. This means that they must be situated within a wireless Internet 'cloud', popularly known as a hot spot. An interconnected area of hot spots is sometimes referred to as a hot zone. Special websites enable users to locate free and pay-by-the-hour hot spots.
WiFi is already installed in many office environments and is now making a major impact on selected public venues such as pubs, cafés and even parks and beaches. WiFi technology has the potential to transform the way we work, defying the limitations and indeed health hazards of being confined to a particular desk in a stuffy office.
Those who regularly engage in the use of WiFi technology are often slightly humorously referred to as WiFiers. WiFiers can sit in a deckchair or on a park bench surfing the Web, accessing e-mail and participating in videoconference meetings, all without the need for a physical connection to a telephone line.
WiFi, short for Wireless Fidelity, is a play on the 1950s term Hi-Fi, which was used as an abbreviation of High Fidelity in the description of sound reproduction. WiFi was introduced as a catchy alternative to the technical label previously associated with the same technology: IEEE 802.11b, based on the name of a standards committee for local and metropolitan area networks. The term WiFi was coined in 1999 by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA), subsequently referring to itself as the WiFi Alliance, an organisation which oversees the performance of products which claim to exploit the technology. Products which pass the Alliance tests are given the registered trademark Wi-Fi certified.
This article was first published on 18th October 2004.