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October 3, 2018

Easy on the Wi-Fi — wireless internet rebrand makes generations more obvious

by John_A

New generations of Wi-Fi internet connectivity will have a simplification change in the nomenclature used to designate them. Such changes should make it easier for consumers to understand the speed and capabilities of various hardware devices, as well as for manufacturers and retailers to market said products.

Traditional Wi-Fi speeds and capabilities were designated by an alteration to the suffix of the connection’s name. Recent generations included 802.11n and 802.11ac. Starting with the next speed step in the Wi-Fi’s march toward ever-faster connections, its name will be simply Wi-Fi 6 — even if its internal name has been 802.11ax for some time.

“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 the Wi-Fi Alliance. “[We are] 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 support by their device or connection.”

Wi-Fi 6 will offer faster speeds for all devices on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums, with a raw throughput speed boost of as much as 37 percent. However, due to improvements in efficiency in the use of different channels and the various spectrums, it’s been suggested that throughput speeds of as much as 400 percent may be possible. It will also support an upgrade to MU-MIMO connectivity, being able to utilize it in the uplink, as well as downlink direction, and will provide much better speeds for networks with a large number of users, such as in public settings and retail outlets.

To designate that a product is capable of utilizing this new-generation of Wi-Fi connectivity, they will be able to sport “Wi-Fi Certified 6” labeling and marketing starting in 2019.

Although the marketing won’t change for older-generations of Wi-Fi products — which will still read, Wi-Fi Certified 802.11ac/n etc. — those generations will also be renamed in line with the new standard. Moving forward, 802.11ac will be known as Wi-Fi 5, and 802.11n will be known as Wi-Fi 4.

If you don’t want to wait for the new Wi-Fi 6 standard to debut next year, these are the best wireless routers you can buy today.

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