What Is Wi-Fi 6? New Wi-Fi Names Explained

Since its inception, Wi-Fi has struggled with a lack of brand recognition. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) establishes the universal wireless networking standard and uses a cryptic numbering system.

This is the original Wi-Fi standard, which is referred to as 802.11, followed by the letters 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and so on. Engineers had to wrap their heads around the fact that 802.11ad isn’t an extension to 802.11a, but rather an amendment of its own.

This has always been a source of consternation for me (is ac really that much faster?). It’s finally been renamed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry group that certifies and brands Wi-Fi.

We’re now using version numbers instead of letters. While there is no official Wi-Fi 1, 2, or 3, there are locations in Wi-history Fi’s where those versions can be found. These are the new names for the current six consumer standards.

Outdated TitleNew TitleLaunchedMax. VelocityBands
802.11b“Wi-Fi 1” (unofficial)199911Mbps2.4GHz
802.11a“Wi-Fi 2” (unofficial)199954Mbps5GHz
802.11g“Wi-Fi 3” (unofficial)200354Mbps2.4GHz
802.11nWi-Fi 42009600Mbps2.4GHz and 5GHz
802.11acWi-Fi 520133.46Gbps5GHz
802.11axWi-Fi 62018/201910.53Gbps2.4GHz and 5GHz

In 2019, these new names are anticipated to gain traction, and by 2020, they will be widely used. Routers, laptops, and other Wi-Fi equipment will all use the new numbering system going forward.

The Wi-Fi Alliance wants device makers to utilize user interface icons to show the Wi-Fi level a device is connected to in order to encourage customers to upgrade their Wi-Fi equipment. You’ll see an icon warning you that you need to upgrade your devices if you receive a Wi-Fi 6 router but all of your devices are still on Wi-Fi 4.

What’s the big deal with Wi-Fi 6? In 2017, I penned an explanation of what was formerly known as 802.11ax. Details are correct except for the launch dates, which were too optimistic. In other words, 802.11ax is a game-changer in densely populated Wi-Fi hotspots where multiple networks coexist or where there are many concurrent users.

This summer, 802.11ax access points went on sale ahead of 2019’s planned formal certification. As of right now, no 802.11ax clients exist, but by the end of 2019, several mobile phones should support it.

Wi-Fi Generations

Wi-Fi Alphabet Soup

The 802.11 standard comes in a variety of flavors, not just the well-known Wi-Fi flavors. There have been 802.11 working groups since the 1990s and the IEEE is now working on improvements to the Wi-Fi standard that won’t be in place for another two years. On the IEEE’s official timeline, you can see all of these changes in action. However, here’s a quick synopsis of what each one accomplishes and when it was approved.

802.11 …What does it do?Publish Date
aOutdated Wi-Fi commonplace for high-speed 5GHz networks.1999
bThe oldest client Wi-Fi commonplace.1999
cA regular that explains how wi-fi bridges work.1997
dIt helps Wi-Fi adjust to totally different nations’ spectrum rules.2001
eA top-quality-of-service system is wanted for Skype and such.2005
fAn approach for entry factors to speak to one another.2003
gShopper Wi-Fi that was as quick as 802.11a.2003
hA modification to forestall Wi-Fi gadgets from interfering with satellites and radar.2003
iThe WPA2 safety is commonplace for encrypting Wi-Fi connections.2004
jA modification to let Wi-Fi work on a brand that is solely out there in Japan.2004
okIt helps shoppers roam between entry factors on the identical community.2008
n“Speedy” Wi-Fi launched in 2009; now, Wi-Fi 4.2009
pAutomotive-to-car networking for driverless vehicles.2010
rSooner handoffs between entry factors, principally for Wi-Fi telephones.2008
sMesh networking.2011
you“Hotspot 2.0” authentication for public entry factors.2011
vLet’s Wi-Fi gadgets chat with one another about community situations.2011
wA low-level safety commonplace.2009
y802.11a Wi-Fi within the 3.6GHz band.2008
zTunneled direct hyperlinks, much like Wi-Fi Direct.2010
acSpeedier Wi-Fi commonplace, now known as Wi-Fi 5.2013
advert“Wi-Gig” for transmitting information very short distances on the 60GHz band.2012
af“White Areas” are commonplace for transmitting Wi-Fi over empty TV channels.2013
ahLow energy, low velocity, prolonged vary information transmission, aka “Wi-Fi HaLow.”2017
akLet’s Wi-Fi is used to bridge different networks extra effectively.2018
aiA regular that lets Wi-Fi gadgets connect to a community in 100ms.2016
ajWi-Gig for China utilizing the 45GHz band.2018
aqA regular to assist gadgets to negotiate connections.2018
Not locked down, but…
axWi-Fi 6, the subsequent model of fast client Wi-Fi.2019
ayA proposed enhancement to Wi-Gig to make it sooner.2019
azAn approach for Wi-Fi gadgets to raise decide their physical lets location.2021
ba“Get up radios” that use little or no energy to get up the primary radio.2020
bbNetworking utilizing seen gentle.2021


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