What are Wi-Fi 4, 5 and 6 ?

Wi-Fi Alliance just announced a new marketing policy for Wi-Fi technologies. Their goal is that new new approaches allow users to more easily differentiate between different Wi-Fi® technologies from version numbers than using traditional long IEEE technical names.

The newly introduced IEEE 802.11ax technology will be known in the future with the marketing name Wi-Fi 6.

The Wi-Fi 5 name is used in 802.11ac-enabled devices.

Wi-Fi 4 recognizes devices that support 802.11n technology.

For some reason Wi-Fi Alliance did not want to officially introduce Wi-Fi numbers 1,2 and 3 to describe previous Wi-Fi versions (like 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g).

Wide Open WiFi (Remix)

The idea of making new marketing names might sound great for Wi-Fi Alliance  but might not be be the best idea. Here are some points that I want to make:

- I just hate that I needed to make last minute editing to otherwise ready magazine article I had written on Wi-Fi technologies due this sudden release. I hate doing last minute unexpected changes in a hurry.

- They seem to advertise this new naming as “silver bullet” for Wi-Fi identifications, but I think it is less than that. Why did they came this idea not this late? First Wi-Fi standard was made over 20 years ago.

- Why did they not make a one simple naming system that covers all the relevant versions clearly? Now they have a system that has numbers from 4 to 6 and it does not cover the older technologies. As we know many old technologies do not dis-appear overnight, which means that us technology journalist and bloggers end up in the situation where when writing about Wi-Fi we need to have a mixed mess of old and new naming for a long time (and maybe need to describe why there is still this naming mess).

My advice: Wi-Fi Alliance step up and fig your new already broken new naming system! A clear one system that covers everything will be better than this partial solution.


1 Comment

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Wi-Fi Alliance introduces Wi-Fi 6 to cap off new naming scheme

    “Wi-Fi has evolved significantly since Aruba was founded 16 years ago – from its initial role as a secondary network within the enterprise enabling mobility to the mission-critical role it plays today as the primary connectivity method for billions of devices, users, and things. We applaud this effort by Wi-Fi Alliance to simplify the terminology used to differentiate between the different generations of technologies as it will help users more quickly and easily discern the technology their particular device or network supports.” – Lissa Hollinger, Vice President of Portfolio Marketing for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

    “Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is a major advancement that keeps Wi-Fi as the technology of choice for local wireless connectivity for consumers and enterprises. Intel will deliver Wi-Fi 6 solutions for both clients and home infrastructure as part of our continued commitment to improve connectivity and security for the best possible user experiences.” – Eric McLaughlin, General Manager of Wireless Solutions, Client Computing Group at Intel Corp


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