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Happy 15th Birthday, Wi-Fi! How has it changed your life?

Wireless access points are basically magic. Well, it is actually science, but to early users, it was like something out of a fantasy. When I worked at CompUSA, people would buy a router and laptop and seem unable to grasp the concept of Internet being everywhere in their home, including the front porch. Don't forget, at the time, we were not far beyond the days of dial-up and widespread AOL use.

Today, Wi-Fi is second nature to many people - it is an expectation and no longer an interesting invention. This is no different than other mind-boggling technologies that turned mainstream, like the refrigerator or television. Now, the Wi-Fi Alliance celebrates 15 years of Wi-Fi; this technology deserves praise and thanks from all Internet users.

"Interoperability, ease of use, and innovation have made Wi-Fi one of the greatest success stories of the last century, and Wi-Fi Alliance has an extensive roadmap to carry the technology well into the future. Since its founding in 1999, the industry organization has been delivering on its vision of seamless connectivity - evolving its technologies and certification programs to keep pace with the requirements of today’s connected world", says the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Read more: Free public Wi-Fi arrives on London buses

The alliance further explains, "Wi-Fi’s evolution since 1999 has been marked by continued advancement and a commitment to legacy interoperability. Far from the original 11 Mbps data rate offered in the first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products, today's most advanced Wi-Fi devices can deliver as much as 1 Gbps of data rate when communicating with other current-generation technology, and can also connect to legacy devices -- preserving value for users over the long term.

The Wi-Fi Alliance shares the following facts:

  • More than 22,000 products have been Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, including more than 4,000 phones and tablets, 6,000 access points, 1,100 printers, and 3,500 televisions
  • Consumer demand for Wi-Fi has continued to grow, with sales figures of about two billion Wi-Fi devices sold in 2013 alone and a forecast exceeding four billion in 2020
  • Wi-Fi is used in 25 per cent of homes around the world

While Wi-Fi is ubiquitous in many parts of the world, there is still a ways to go until all homes have the standard. In the past, single computer homes could get by with a desktop hardwired to a modem. However, the rise of tablets, connected game consoles, and tiered data plans for cellular phones, should cause continued Wi-Fi growth.

So, Happy Birthday, Wi-Fi! We wish you 15 more.

Image Credit: Vladvm / Shutterstock