Confused by the IEEE 802.11 naming conventions used to denote the different generations of Wi-Fi technology? You are not alone. Over time, as manufacturers found new and different ways to speed up wireless connections, the 802.11 nomenclature became more confusing for users. In an effort to make versioning more user friendly and easier to understand, the Wi-Fi Alliance trade group recently introduced a significant re-branding of the 802.11 standards.
802.11 User-Friendly Names
While the underlying Wi-Fi specifications, managed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) will keep their technical names, the Wi-Fi Alliance that certifies Wi-Fi products is renaming the last two generations and the soon to be released next generation to Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, and Wi-Fi 6.
Similar to Bluetooth 3, 4, and 5, the new naming scheme will help Wi-Fi manufacturers, operators, and end users easily understand both the Wi-Fi technology supported by a device and the connection that device makes with a Wi-Fi network. With the new naming scheme, users can assume that the higher the number, the more advanced the wireless technology it supports. Additionally, because Wi-Fi generations are backward compatible, newer devices will work seamlessly with older legacy networks.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is encouraging adoption of generation names Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, and Wi-Fi 6 as industry terminology for use in marketing materials and promotion with consumers, media and analysts. Generations of Wi-Fi prior to Wi-Fi 4 will not be assigned names. The Wi-Fi Alliance said it expects the generational terminology to be broadly adopted across the Wi-Fi ecosystem.
In a statement issued by the Wi-Fi Alliance announcing the new naming convention Edgar Figueroa, President and Chief Executive expressed the alliance’s enthusiasm for the change. ‘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,’ Figueroa admitted. ‘The 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.
Today Wi-Fi 5 5GHz band can push speeds of 1,300Mbit/s. That’s 600 times faster than speeds were in 1997. Wi-Fi 6 will take that another step forward, and it’s not just speed that’s improving. Wi-Fi 6 is cleverly engineered to squeeze more bandwidth out of the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 radios already employed. The end result is more capacity on the same channels, with less interference between them, as well as faster data transfer speeds.
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