Blog OCTO

Pop Culture and Wi-Fi – a World Wi-Fi Day Celebration

David Coleman Director, Wireless Networking at the Office of the CTO Published 17 Jun 2022

For over 25 years, Wi-Fi has provided true wireless mobility and secure connectivity across the globe. Many of you know that I am fond of saying that Wi-Fi has become an essential part of our daily worldwide communications culture. Wi-Fi technology is ingrained into our everyday lives. We depend on Wi-Fi both at work and home. In today’s society, we use Wi-Fi daily almost everywhere we go. From coffee shops, retailers, and sporting events…. Wi-Fi is everywhere. And I am willing to wager that you are using a Wi-Fi connection at this very moment while reading this blog.

On June 20th of every year, we celebrate World Wi-Fi Day. In 2022, I thought I would take a fun look at some pop culture references to Wi-Fi.  It’s no secret that movies and TV shows are often riddled with references to tech. And because we use Wi-Fi every day, it only makes sense that Wi-Fi will pop up in commercials, television, movies, and music.

Before there was wide adoption of the technology, an underground Wi-Fi subculture existed. In the very early days of Wi-Fi, wardriving was a hobby and sport for techno-geeks and hackers looking to find wireless networks. The term wardriving was derived from wardialing from the 1983 film WarGames. Wardriving competitions were often held at hacker conventions to see who could find the most SSIDs. Wardriving was the act of looking for wireless networks, usually while in a moving vehicle. Because Wi-Fi networks were sparse, the sole purpose of amateur wardrivers was an easy way to find a free Internet connection. Much like these two fellows are doing in this Volkswagen commercial from 2006:

By the way, I do not encourage or support the efforts of using wireless networks that you are not authorized to use. I recommend that you connect only to wireless networks that you are authorized to access. Besides, in 2022, almost every business now offers free guest Wi-Fi access as a value-added service.

Because Wi-Fi access is now everywhere, the wardriving is no longer needed. You don’t need to “steal” Wi-Fi as this guy did in French class in a 2010 Qwest commercial:

By the way, in France, the phrase Wi-Fi is pronounced wee fee. For some odd reason, former NBA superstar Charles Barkley, also uses the wee fee pronunciation:

A simple search on YouTube will display many commercials with a Wi-Fi theme. But I must say that my favorite Wi-Fi commercial to date is José’s Wi-Fi Dogs from 2014. José starts a clever business using dogs to sniff out wireless networks:

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Wi-Fi was suddenly to disappear? Well, the animated movie “The Mitchells versus the Machines” did just that. A world without Wi-Fi would result in global anarchy:

In the television show Big Bang Theory, Wi-Fi, multiple episodes depicted instances where the character of Sheldon changed the Wi-Fi password:

What about music?  Another quick search on SoundCloud locates numerous songs about Wi-Fi.  I have no idea if any of these are hit songs. Wi-Fi was not around in the late 70s when I grew up listening to Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. I do like this country music song by April Styron: Wi-Fi for Christmas.

So, there you have it. We depend on Wi-Fi on Christmas Day and every day of the year. While June 20th might be the official World Wi-Fi Day, in reality, every day is Wi-Fi day. And now that Wi-Fi is also moving into the 6 GHz frequency band, Wi-Fi has a very bright future for many more years to come.

And since we are on the topic of pop culture, what is the primary medium that we use to stream music, videos, and more? That’s right, we also use Wi-Fi to get our daily pop culture fix.

Do you have a favorite pop culture reference about Wi-Fi?  If so, send me a link.

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