Wi-Fi Naming Simplified: 802.11ax Becomes Wi-Fi 6by Anton Shilov on October 3, 2018 4:30 PM EST
In a bid to simplify the naming of the current and future Wi-Fi standards and ensure that even unexperienced users buy the right equipment, Wi-Fi Alliance on Wednesday introduced a new naming approach for the Wi-Fi brand. From now on, major Wi-Fi standards will be publicly labeled by numbers instead of letters.
Nowadays PCs, smartphones, networking equipment, and other products that are equipped with a Wi-Fi controller are labeled using the name of the relevant IEEE standard; e.g. 802.11n, 802.11ac, or 802.11ax-compliant. While such naming scheme is accurate and convenient enough for experienced users, casual buyers do not always understand it, especially as standards have moved into two-letter suffixes. Which in turn has meant that buyers don't always grab the right combination of devices that provides the best performance (e.g., get a new PC with an 802.11ac card and an outdated 802.11n router). In a bid to simplify things going forward, the Wi-Fi Alliance and its members will use generation names instead of letters. As a result, the 802.11ax will be called Wi-Fi 6.
|Wi-Fi Names and Performance|
|Wi-Fi 4||802.11n||150 Mbps||300 Mbps||450 Mbps|
|Wi-Fi 5||802.11ac||433 Mbps over 80MHz
867 Mbs over 160MHz
|867 Mbps over 80MHz
1.69 Gbps over 160MHz
|1.27 Gbps over 80 MHz
2.54 Gbps over 160 MHz
|Wi-Fi 6||802.11ax||867 Mbs over 160MHz
|1.69 Gbps over 160MHz
|2.54 Gbps over 160 MHz
While the new naming approach will undoubtedly improve clarity when it comes to major Wi-Fi releases and help end users to select the right set of equipment, it's worth noting that the new system doesn't try to distill every aspect of a Wi-Fi device's capabilities and configuration down to a single number. For example, the key advantage of the 802.11ax spec is not its peak AP-to-device bandwidth, but rather its peak overall “capacity” that will improve performance when working with both 802.11ax and 802.11ac devices. Furthermore, the performance of 802.11ac and 802.11ax devices depend on the number of channels they use and the number of spatial streams within those channels, so the simplified Wi-Fi names do not give a complete description of what devices are capable of.
Despite some uncertainties, simplification of Wi-Fi naming seems like a good move by Wi-Fi Alliance since it at least attempts to give casual users an overall understanding of general wireless networking capabilities.
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Source: Wi-Fi Alliance