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Wi-Fi is changing beyond recognition and it’s good news for everyone

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a series of sweeping changes to the way it names Wi-Fi standards, introducing Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 5, and Wi-Fi 4 in place of 802.11ax, 802.11ac and 802.11n. We explain the Wi-Fi name changes.

It’s good news for ordinary internet users today as the Wi-Fi Alliance has revealed that it is ditching its clunky Wi-Fi standard branding in favour of new, easy to understand labels.

The latest generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ax, becomes Wi-Fi 6, while older (but still more widely used) specifications 802.11ac and 802.11n become Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4, respectively.

Anything that pre-dates 802.11n/Wi-Fi 4 isn’t officially getting renamed, but if you wanted to, you could extend the overhaul all the back to 1999’s 802.11b, which would now be Wi-Fi 1.

The move is designed to help consumers better understand which Wi-Fi standard their devices support, the Wi-Fi Alliance said, adding that it expects hardware manufacturers to begin adopting the simplified version numbering on its products in the immediate future, along with the newly revealed logos. By way of reference, that’s an official Wi-Fi Alliance mocked up ‘Wi-Fi 6’ sticker at the top of the page.

It’ll also be more easy to understand the speed capabilities of networks in the future, if the Alliance gets its way, as it wants to see the numbers added to the end of Wi-Fi connections, so you’ll be able to opt to link up your device to a ‘5’ over a ‘4’, in theory.

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“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. 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,”  commented Wi-Fi Alliance President and CEO Edgar Figueroa.

Here’s a brief summary of the key Wi-Fi naming changes.

  • 802.11ax is now Wi-Fi 6
  • 802.11ac is now Wi-Fi 5
  • 802.11n is now Wi-Fi 4

We reckon the new Wi-Fi names can only be a good thing, as the old ones were fairly convoluted and difficult for most consumers to decipher. Now, whether you’re considering buying a new device or trying to get the most out of an existing one, it’ll be a lot easier to know what Wi-Fi speeds it’s capable of supporting.

Got any questions about the new Wi-Fi names? Tweet them to us @TrustedReviews.

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