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Happy Birthday Wi-Fi – 20 Years Young


Happy birthday to our beloved: Wi-Fi! That’s right. Wireless internet connection is officially 20 years old. Can you remember life without it? There is no doubt that over the course of the past two decades, Wi-Fi has changed all of our lives. And today, it is everywhere.

Here’s a look at where WiFi started, how far it has come and where it is going in the future:

WiFi of the past:

Here’s a list of some of the biggest WiFi milestones over the years:

1971: – Wi-Fi networks emerged from

1997: the first version of 802.11 standard is introduced, which allows speeds up to 2Mbps.

1999: Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) is established. Today we know it as the Wi-Fi Alliance. Also, 802.11b is introduced. It is the first standard to appear under the name “Wi-Fi.”

1999-2000: “Wi-Fi” is integrated on commercial devices, including popular laptops.

2002: Cisco launches its free Cisco Compatible eXtensions licensing program, which allowed Wi-Fi products offered by other providers to work with Cisco wireless networks, while maintaining a high level of security.

2004: The first commercial flight with Wi-Fi access.

2005: “Wi-Fi” is added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

2009: 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) standard is introduced and offers speeds up to nine times faster than before 54 Mbps vs. 450 Mbps) using MIMO technology.

2010: Cisco CleanAir technology is integrated into the Aironet 3500 Access Point series. This allowed automatic interference identification and directing users to other, less crowded channels.

2011: The number of global Wi-Fi Hotspots reaches one million.

2012: A quarter of all households in the world are connected to Wi-Fi.

2013: 802.11ac standard is introduced, reaching speeds over 1 Gbps.

2015: Studies show that people say that Wi-Fi is the second most important thing that they would not want to live without.

2018: The global economic value of Wi-Fi technology reaches 2 trillion dollars. There are 13 billion Wi-Fi devices worldwide (roughly two devices per person).

WiFi today:

2019: Wi-Fi 6 is released, which reaches speeds up to 5 Gbps. The technology is built on the same basis as 5G networks. Wi-Fi 6 and 5G technologies are considered complementary.

Wi-Fi 6 requires helps save battery life for connected devices and offers a better, more predictable user experience.

Cisco announces the Cisco OpenRoaming project. The project is designed to facilitate seamless and secure connection between Wi-Fi, LTE networks and public Wi-Fi.

WiFi of the future:

There is a lot of talk and plans of where Wi-Fi will be in the near future. Here’s what consumers have to look forward to:

2021: Consumers can look forward to multiple hotspots. Cisco estimates that the number of hotspots will exceed 500 million globally by 2021.

2022: Consumers can look forward to faster speeds. Estimates show the global average for Wi-Fi connection speed will be 54.2 Mbps. (Compared to 24.4 Mbps in 2017.)

There’s no doubt that Wi-Fi has come a long way, and that as consumers, we can expect to see it go even further in the near future. Beyond faster speeds and more reliable connections, there is one other area potential: making Wi-Fi more widely available.

Stay in-the-know on the changes to Wi-Fi and other developing stories by following Actiontec’s featured Industry Articles or the Actiontec blog.

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