WiFi 6: The new wireless protocol arrives in 2019 with a much simpler name

science SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY
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Can’t remember whether 802.11ax is faster than 802.11ac or how they both related to 802.11ad? Starting next year, things should get a little easier, because the WiFi Alliance has announced the move to a simpler naming scheme for versions of the wireless data protocol. We’ll start to see the first devices featuring 802.11ax technology in 2019… but they’ll probably have a new label on them: WiFi 6.

Aside from the new name, there aren’t many surprises. As expected, WiFi 6 (802.11ax) is expected to bring support for higher data transfer speeds, increased capacity, improved power efficiency, and better performance in environments with a lot of wireless activity.

If you’re wondering why 802.11ax is is WiFi 6 instead of WiFi 1, it’s because the WiFi Alliance is also giving new names to most of the older versions of the wireless protocol:

  • 802.11b = WiFi 1
  • 802.11a = WiFi 2
  • 802.11g = WiFi 3
  • 802.11n = WiFi 4
  • 802.11ac = WiFi 6

By the time WiFi 7 rolls around, it’ll be a little easier to understand at a glance that it should be a newer version of the wireless standard than WiFi 6.

The Alliance is also hoping device makers and software developers incorporate new indicators into their user interfaces, so you’ll be able to quickly spot what type of WiFi network you’re connected to when using PCs, tablets, smartphones or other devices.


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