What Exactly is Wi-Fi?

November 7, 2022

What Exactly is Wi-Fi? 

You may have heard the word “Wi-Fi” being tossed around a lot. Maybe someone told you to connect your phone to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop. Or maybe your internet service provider told you to connect your laptop to your in-home Wi-Fi. Maybe you’ve heard mumblings on the news or social media about Wi-Fi being dangerous to your health. Regardless of where you’ve heard the word Wi-Fi and regardless of the context, it is important to understand what exactly Wi-Fi is, how it works, and what it is used for.  

Contrary to popular belief, “wi-fi” is not an acronym. It is a brand name that was created by a marketing firm in 1999.  The reason a marketing firm was hired, was to create a catchier name than “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence”. So, then what does “wi-fi” stand for? It is a shortened version of the slogan “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”. Wi-fi is a lot easier for people to remember, that’s why the marketing company decided to shorten their slogan to simply “Wi-Fi-”.  

So, now that we know where the name comes from, what is wi-fi? Simply put, wi-fi is a technology that is used to provide access to the internet for a wide array of devices. Wi-fi uses radio waves to connect devices to each other. Think of wi-fi as a major highway. It connects secondary and local roads around the country. Each house also has a driveway that connects it to the roads and highways.  

Wi-fi works by receiving and transmitting signals and data packages from a device such as a router to a local exchange point. Think of like this, you have a package that you would like to take to the post office. You are the radio wave; your package is the data that needs to be moved from point A to point B. You Use your driveway, the roads, and a highway to get that data package to the post office. Wi-Fi works in a similar way. It uses a device to send data packages through radio waves to a highway that can get that package to a local internet exchange point, or in this case a metaphorical post office.  

Of course, the process is a bit more complex, but what you need to know is that Wi-Fi uses an infrastructure similar to highways and roads to deliver packages to a point that can get that package to its location. For more information, check out the source below! Be sure to check back for more blogs by BTU! 


[1] What Is Wi-Fi? – Definition and Types – Cisco 

[2] Wi-Fi – Wikipedia 

[3] Wi-Fi Facts for Kids (kiddle.co) 

[4] Understanding Wi-Fi and How It Works (lifewire.com)