Wi-Fi is one of the most important and useful connectivity feature on modern devices but it is not always the most easiest to name or understand. Now, the Wi-Fi Alliance wants to fix that basic issue and has understood that the versioning system used to describe the current Wi-Fi standard is neither simple nor intuitive. It is now revising the name scheme of Wi-Fi that will make it easier to understand for even average consumer.
When you look at the new name scheme announced for Wi-Fi standard, one can only be amazed that it was not a standard from the start. The new Wi-Fi generations will be described using a single number instead of a complex of numbers and alphabets used in the past. With the revision, the Wi-Fi alliance recommends calling Wi-Fi 802.11n as Wi-Fi 4. The Wi-Fi 5 is used to describe Wi-Fi 802.11ac while the upcoming Wi-Fi 802.11ax will be called Wi-Fi 6, when it becomes officially deployed. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi Alliance is not delving out details as to what happened to the older standards such as Wi-Fi 1, Wi-Fi 2 and Wi-Fi 3.
The new name scheme assigned for the Wi-Fi standard can be classified as: Wi-Fi 802.11b is Wi-Fi 1, Wi-Fi 802.11a is Wi-Fi 2 and Wi-Fi 802.11g is Wi-Fi 3. The Wi-Fi 802.11n is Wi-Fi 4, Wi-FIi 802.11ac is Wi-Fi 5 while 802.11ax is Wi-Fi 6. There is no reasoning as to how the Wi-Fi Alliance is rebranding these standards as 1 or 2 but for now, it seems to be based on the year when they were commissioned or introduced in the market.
The one big takeaway from this rebranding exercise is that a higher number does mean better Wi-Fi. Now, device vendors and chip makers need not go through such complex names as 802.11 ac, 802.11ax or 802.11n. They can simply advertise their products as Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 compliant. While the naming for Wi-Fi standard gets simplified, it is definitely not going to be very much easier.
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The marketing materials for Wi-Fi routers will still show up speeds achieved by these devices based on different bands supported by them. The Wi-Fi Alliance has said that it wants to see these new numerical numbers associated with Wi-Fi standard on software user interfaces as well. A future update might change Wi-Fi standard on your smartphone or laptop to Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 based on support. The best part, if you ever see two wireless networks with Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5, it is easier to know, which one is faster.