What Is an SSID, or Service Set Identifier?

You’ll often see the acronym “SSID” when Wi-Fi networks are involved. A Wi-Fi network’s SSID is the technical term for its network name. For example, if you see a sign telling you to join a network with an SSID of “Airport WiFi”, you just need to pull up the list of wireless networks nearby and join the “Airport WiFi” network.

What Does SSID Stand For?

SSID stands for “Service Set Identifier”. Under the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard, a “service set” refers to a a collection of wireless networking devices with the same parameters. So, the SSID is the identifier (name) that tells you which service set (or network) to join.

You can dig into the details on Wikipedia, but SSID is really just a technical term for the wireless network’s name.

How SSIDs Work

SSIDs are designed to be a unique name to distinguish between multiple Wi-FI networks in the area so you can connect to the correct one.

These are used by all types of Wi-Fi access points, including public Wi-Fi networks and your home Wi-Fi network. Router manufacturers often provide a default SSID like “Linksys” or “Netgear”, but you can change it to anything you like—if you control the Wi-Fi network and have administrative access.

An SSID can be up to 32 characters in length. They’re case-sensitive, so “NetworkName” is a different SSID from “networkname”. Some special characters like spaces, the underscore, periods, and dashes are also allowed.

The wireless router or other Wi-Fi base station broadcasts its SSID, allowing nearby devices to display a list of available networks with human-readable names.

If the network is an open network, anyone can connect with just the SSID. However, if the network is secured with WPA2 or another type of encryption, people will need the passphrase before they can connect. We recommend against hosting an open Wi-Fi network.

What Happens if There Are Multiple Wi-Fi Networks With the Same SSID?

Once you’ve connected to a Wi-Fi network with a certain SSID once, your device will generally try connecting to SSIDs with that name in the future.

Things get more complicated if there are multiple Wi-Fi networks with the same SSID. If they’re in the same area—for example, two networks named “Home”—some devices will…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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