In April 2000, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance – later to become Wi-Fi Alliance® – announced the first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ products. This certification program was the first of its kind, giving businesses and consumers confidence that products from different vendors bearing the Wi-Fi® logo would work together right out of the box. The Wi-Fi logo soon became the seal of interoperability – starting with IEEE 802.11b products– paving the way for broad adoption of wireless local area network (WLAN) technology across many environments.
The first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products included access points (APs) and personal computer (PC) network adapter cards. At the time, these products were most important because Wi-Fi was primarily used to wirelessly connect computers to broadband internet. The concept of untethering from a PC was revolutionary.
An early WIRED article from 2003 pointed out, “anyone with a broadband connection can plug a $100 access point into a cable modem or DSL box, slip a $60 card into a laptop, and suddenly have that most fabled of tech ambitions: Internet everywhere.” The article painted a picture of the connectivity revolution Wi-Fi was expected to bring, predicting mass adoption with 99 million users by 2006. Today, there are more than 15 billion Wi-Fi products in use around the world.1
Fast forward two decades, and Wi-Fi’s reach has expanded exponentially. Wi-Fi has grown from connectivity that was normally only found in office environments, home offices of the most advanced techies and the occasional internet café, to a technology that is nearly ubiquitous around the world. Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs have driven an interoperable Wi-Fi ecosystem transforming the way users connect to the world. The same 2003 WIRED article noted that Wi-Fi was so alluring because it was “cheap, powerful, and most important, it works.” Those core competencies remain true today – and Wi-Fi also brings so much more.
From its origins with certification of a handful of APs and PC cards, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED now includes over 50,000 products ranging from advanced APs and smartphones, to laptops, TVs, and gaming computers, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart thermostats, door locks, and even hot water heaters. Wi-Fi devices are all around us, helping to deliver the vision of Wi-Fi Alliance – Connecting everyone and everything, everywhere.
For more on the value of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, watch our animation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuyZ9l_X1Xw&feature=youtu.be
1IDC, Dec 2019
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