Wi-Fi generations get a simpler naming scheme
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The Wi-Fi Alliance has made it easier for people to quickly understand where each generation of Wi-Fi sits in relation to each other, through adopting a numerical and sequential naming scheme.

The sequence includes:

  • Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax technology
  • Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac technology
  • Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n technology

The Wi-Fi Alliance states that these “consumer-friendly” generation names “are intended to be used widely throughout the Wi-Fi ecosystem by Wi-Fi Alliance members, non-members, industry partners, media and analysts”. It adds that generations of Wi-Fi prior to Wi-Fi 4 will not be assigned names.

Following on from this change, the Alliance has introduced new user interface visuals to address the tendency for consumers to “mistakenly equate the expected quality of their Wi-Fi experience with a displayed Wi-Fi signal strength indicator. In their minds, stronger signal should equate to a better user experience.” The new visuals which are intended for use by device manufacturers and operating system vendors will show the user which generation of Wi-Fi is being used by their connection and adjust as users move between Wi-Fi networks that provide different user experience.

“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. “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.”

More details can be found in the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Generational Wi-Fi User Guide



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