Reflecting on 20 Years of Wi-Fi

It’s been twenty years since Wireless Fidelity was invented and first released for consumers by the IEEE committee 802.11.

Guest author

October 1, 2019

2 Min Read
Reflecting on 20 Years of Wi-Fi periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Content Lead for Broadband World Forum reflects on the past, present and future of Wi-Fi.

It’s been twenty years since Wireless Fidelity was invented and first released for consumers by the IEEE committee 802.11. In the decades since it is no understatement to say that the WLAN technology has revolutionised how individuals and society connect and operate.

Now, Wi-Fi is considered so essential to our daily life that it is viewed as a utility. It is the first thing that we ask for when visiting a friend’s house, and we even demand access when out in public. It is no question that connectivity will be further boosted by the imminent introduction of Wi-Fi 6, the latest iteration of the international standard which is designed to ease the limitations on the network inherent in IEEE 802.11ac by, among other things, connecting to multiple devices at a time.

But, how did we get to this point? Reflecting on it briefly, the history of Wi-Fi looks something like the below:


But what about the future? Where will this transformative technology head next? As we explore in our latest report, 802.11ax is Wi-Fi’s logical evolution. Unlike previous Wi-Fi standards this new version isn’t focused on purely boosting headline speeds but prioritises to manage the connectivity strain caused by the ever-increasing number of connected IoT devices and smart home gadgets.

One example is a computer powering an 8K resolution VR headset in the same room, wirelessly; something that will undoubtedly transform the gaming experience for individuals across the globe.

Then there’s the influence of the likes of 5G and artificial intelligence on Wi-Fi; it is clear that Wi-Fi will be integral to the fixed and mobile broadband experiences going forward. Indeed, Wi-Fi will increasingly be used for off-loading and even for backhaul, in the case of WiGig.


To discover the future of Wi-Fi, download our new report for free by clicking here.

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