Wi-Fi Now Has Version Numbers, and Wi-Fi 6 Comes Out Next Year

The Wi-Fi Alliance said Wednesday it was rebranding the “802.11” Wi-Fi standards that have long served as a source of potential confusion for users. From now on, said the Wi-Fi Alliance, the current 802.11ac standard will be known as Wi-Fi 5, while its successor 802.11ax will be known as Wi-Fi 6. From a report: In the past, Wi-Fi versions were identified by a letter or a pair of letters that referred to a wireless standard. The current version is 802.11ac, but before that, we had 802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11a, and 802.11b. It was not comprehensible, so the Wi-Fi Alliance — the group that stewards the implementation of Wi-Fi — is changing it. All of those convoluted codenames are being changed. Now, instead of wondering whether “ac” is better than “n” or if the two versions even work together, you’ll just look at the number. Wi-Fi 5 is higher than Wi-Fi 4, so obviously it’s better. And since Wi-Fi networks have always worked together, it’s somewhat clearer that Wi-Fi 5 devices should be able to connect with Wi-Fi 4 devices, too. Now that the retroactive renaming is done, it’s time for the future. If you’ve been closely following router developments over the past year (no judgments here), you’ll know that the next generation of Wi-Fi is on the horizon, with the promise of faster speeds and better performance when handling a multitude of devices. It was supposed to be called 802.11ax, but now it’ll go by a simpler name: Wi-Fi 6. The Wi-Fi Alliance says that it expects companies to adopt this numerical advertising in place of the classic lettered versions.


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