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Next Generation 802.11ax 10Gbps+ WiFi is Now Called Wi-Fi 6

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 (5:13 pm) - Score 2,828
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For as long as we can remember different generations of Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) technology or simply, WiFi, has been known by its industry standard designations (e.g. IEEE 802.11ac). But forget all that because the Wi-Fi Alliance have now adopted consumer friendly naming conventions.

The new naming system is said to identify Wi-Fi generations by a “numerical sequence which correspond to major advancements in Wi-Fi” (i.e. that’s a roundabout way of saying 1, 2, 3 etc.). For example, the very latest 802.11ax standard will now simply be called Wi-Fi 6, which is certainly simpler but we dare say that most enthusiasts will merely shrug their shoulders and let out a muted sigh.

For nearly two decades, Wi-Fi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi Alliance is excited to introduce Wi-Fi 6, and present a new naming scheme to help industry and Wi-Fi users easily understand the Wi-Fi generation supported by their device or connection,” said Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

What should you now call your WiFi network?

* Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax technology

* Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac technology

* Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n technology

At this point we’re a little unsure how all this will work with respect to mid-cycle technology upgrades, such as the difference between initial 802.11ac devices and the most recent 802.11ac Wave 2 specification that was a fairly big improvement. Perhaps Wi-Fi 5.5? Anybody? Ok never mind. Likewise we’re unsure what this means for niche standards like the short range 802.11ad (60GHz), but we believe they’ll continue to use the technical name instead.

The development, if you can call it that, has come just ahead of the new 802.11ax.. oops sorry, Wi-Fi 6 standard that is due to see its first fully certified commercial kit hit store shelves later next year. Theoretical peak data speeds of up to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) are being promised over the combined 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio spectrum bands, alongside better management of spectrum in congested environments (see our summary).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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16 Responses
  1. baby_frogmella

    “At this point we’re a little unsure how all this will work with respect to mid-cycle technology upgrades, such as the difference between initial 802.11ac devices and the most recent 802.11ac Wave 2 specification that was a fairly big improvement.”

    802.11ac Wave2 Mu-Mimo is still based on 802.11ac so technically both are ‘wifi 5’.

  2. Meadmodj

    Hopefully Microsoft and Google/Android can include it in their software with handy user messages informing users that their old laptop WIFI 1 connection will not improve by connecting it to their new WIFI 6 router as most users assume WIFI is all the same.

    • eM

      I assume Wi-Fi 1 is 802.11a which is not compatible with any routers around these days 😛 but there’s plenty of 802.11g (Wi-Fi 3?) ones still around.

  3. occasionally factual

    The icons are going to confuse lots of people. They are going to think it means signal strength.

  4. EndlessWaves

    Wi-fi Number Six? Does it include special provision for avoiding weather balloons?

  5. AndyC

    Now for sale iphone 12 with wifi 6 for 1000g……….

    makes as much sence as Nvidias nameing policy

  6. Michael V

    Most ISPs are still just using 2.4ghz band supported WiFi hubs. Few are handing out 5ghz 802.11ac [also known as 5G WiFi] I’ve seen 5th generation on some branded Wi-Fi hubs! I think this is a good start to standardise the naming process.
    I do think all ISPs need to provide a dual band box with latest standard to customers, for security & future proof. I’m not on fibre, just on DSL broadband & 5ghz band made a difference when streaming. Especially with more devices being connected these days.
    The industry just needs to adopt this new process.

    • Shelley Rose

      Errrrr you will find most (if not all) of the mainstream ISPs have been supplying dual band routers for quite a while.

    • Also 5GHz has been supported since long before the ac spec.

    • Michael V

      I had a job to get a dual band hub from EE when I was with them.
      PlusNet will sell a dual band hub if one wants DSL broadband. The same with Origin. What I ment was only if one has fibre then a dual band hub is provided with some ISPs. Sky provide one which ever service anyone buys. And yes, 5ghz band had been around for some time before ac was introduced

  7. Neb

    From a average consumer perceptive – good news. My elders have no clue… simplifying terminology like this helps.

    Agree with Meadmodj previous comment yesterday also – all good but some software side notifications/info to match would be a welcomed improvement on the same note.

  8. Joe

    ” the very latest 802.11ax standard will now simply be called Wi-Fi 6, which is certainly simpler but we dare say that most enthusiasts will merely shrug their shoulders and let out a muted sigh.”

    Lol – I’d just don’t exactly that then read your comment!

  9. Tech-Bawlk

    Did they forget 802.11 ad wifi standard :/

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