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Computing a system of accessing the internet from remote machines such as laptop computers that have wireless connections
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Either of two different incompatible radio-based LAN protocols, namely 802.11b (which speaks DSSS at 2.4GHz) and 802.11a (which speaks OFDM at 5GHz).

The term was invented by the marketing departments of wi-fi equipment manufacturers. It is, notionally, short for "wireless fidelity", on the analogy of hi-fi for "high fidelity" audio.
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The standard wireless local area network (WLAN) technology for connecting computers and myriad electronic devices to each other and to the Internet. Wi-Fi is the wireless version of a wired Ethernet network, and it is commonly deployed alongside it (see Ethernet). However, the term is not always used correctly (see Wi-Fi terminology).

Every laptop, tablet and smartphone comes with Wi-Fi, as well as most security cameras and home theater devices. Printers and scanners may also support Wi-Fi, and home appliances increasingly use it for control and notifications. Although the Wi-Fi moniker was inspired by "hi-fi" (high fidelity), the name does not mean "wireless fidelity." To learn how Wi-Fi fits into the home and office, see wireless LAN, wireless router and Wi-Fi hotspot.

Wi-Fi Is an IEEE Standard
Wi-Fi is officially the IEEE 802.11 standard. For details and history, see 802.11 and 802.11 versions. The Wi-Fi Alliance certifies that network devices comply with the IEEE 802.11 standards. See Wi-Fi hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, Passive Wi-Fi, Muni Wi-Fi, wireless mesh network, Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet, Wi-Fi vs. cellular and Wi-Fi vs. Bluetooth.

Wi-Fi-Enabled Washing Machine
This Miele washing machine sends alerts to the user and to Miele via Wi-Fi. If it reports a problem, the company may notify the dealer.

Wireless and Wired Together
With a wireless router, Wi-Fi and Ethernet co-exist in the home. See wireless router.

Ceiling-Mounted and Desktop Access Points
Access points (APs) are the Wi-Fi base stations, and the circuitry in these stand-alone units is also built into a wireless router.

Wi-Fi Adapters
The adapter (top) adds Wi-Fi to any computer via USB, while the card on the bottom plugs into a PCI slot inside a desktop computer. (Images courtesy of D-Link Corporation and TP-LINK Technologies Co., Ltd.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
The integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b LAN support allows users to connect to widely available wireless networks, while Bluetooth wireless connectivity is provided for the new generation of printers, cell phones, and other peripherals.
ORiNOCO Wireless Network Manager version 1.1 now manages the Proxim's outdoor point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless solutions as well as ORiNOCO indoor Wi-Fi 802.11b and IEEE 802.11a wireless networks.
Packaged in a sleek silver chassis and weighing just over six pounds, the Satellite M30/35 Series features a vivid 15.4" diagonal wide-screen display and Intel Centrino mobile technology creating a unique blend of mobility and wireless (Wi-Fi 802.11b) connectivity.
Palm Tungsten C has built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b connectivity, 64MB of memory, a 400MHz ARM processor, and a 320x320 TFT display for indoor and outdoor viewing.