The Wi-Fi Alliance industry group says the next iteration of the technology, 802.11ax, has been branded ‘Wi-Fi 6’ as part of a new naming effort to make further updates less confusing to consumers.
The new naming system identifies Wi-Fi generations by a numerical sequence which correspond to major advancements in Wi-Fi. The generation names can be used by product vendors to identify the latest Wi-Fi technology a device supports, by OS vendors to identify the generation of Wi-Fi connection between a device and network, and by service providers to identify the capabilities of a Wi-Fi network to their customers.
“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,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “
The generational terminology is also retroactive in regards to previous Wi-Fi generations, such as 802.11n or 802.11ac. The numerical sequence includes:
- Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax
- Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac
- Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n
As each generation of Wi-Fi offers new features – faster speeds, increased throughput, and better experiences – industry adoption of the new terminology will help users better understand the experience they can expect.
Wi-Fi 6 itself promises to deliver four times as much data to multiple clients simultaneously and cut latency by 75%. It is also being designed to be backwards compatible with previous standards. However, the IEEE still hasn’t finalized the 802.11ax standard, which has been delayed until late 2019.