This content was originally published in the IEEE Communication Standards Magazine.
Wi-Fi® is among the greatest success stories of the high-tech era. For more than 20 years1 our industry, guided by standards created by IEEE, brought Wi-Fi to the world. IEEE members, Wi-Fi Alliance® members2, and Wi-Fi users are participants in a virtuous cycle that steadily solidified Wi-Fi in daily life. This cycle inspires the creation of new businesses, products, and applications that change how we live. It is hard to overstate the success Wi-Fi enjoys.
The IEEE role in this cycle is clear: IEEE members, which include the world’s most brilliant inventors and technologists, develop core standards for Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi users play the important role in the cycle of voicing preferences through their purchases, amounting to more than 33 billion total products shipped, and 3.8 billion shipments in 2020 alone3. So, what is Wi-Fi Alliance’s role in this virtuous Wi-Fi cycle?
Wi-Fi Alliance sits between the IEEE world and end users’ real-life experience with Wi-Fi. Comprised of companies spanning a rich, global Wi-Fi ecosystem, Wi-Fi Alliance provides a forum for stakeholders with commercial Wi-Fi interests to discuss and determine use cases, market requirements, and standards-based solutions for those requirements. Wi-Fi Alliance also creates testing for broad interoperability. Such interoperability work has been ongoing since IEEE 802.11b4. The Wi-Fi name, the benefits of cross-vendor interoperability, and the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ product designation and logo5 contribute to the mass market adoption and affordability that differentiate Wi-Fi from other technologies.
Over time, Wi-Fi Alliance has evolved along with the industry. While continuing to deliver interoperability certification, Wi-Fi Alliance also addresses possible obstacles to market growth. For example, Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE 802.11 first addressed Wi-Fi security in the early 2000s, and that work continues through today with WPA3™6. In addition to promoting global Wi-Fi adoption, Wi-Fi Alliance is heavily involved in advocating for spectrum access and harmonization7, ensuring Wi-Fi and cellular radios coexist within products, addressing fairness in 5 GHz, and helping governments recognize the economic value that Wi-Fi delivers8.
Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE have a synergistic relationship. Lessons, questions, and feedback are shared between common Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE 802.11 delegates, which ensures industry alignment. Our relationship underpins the virtuous Wi-Fi cycle, which bodes well for our shared, connected future with Wi-Fi.
3 IDC, September 2020
4 https://www.wi-fi.org/news-events/newsroom/wireless-ethernet-compatibility-alliance-weca-awards-first-wi-fi, April 17, 2000
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