Say goodbye to 802.11ac as Wi-Fi names are revamped

Wi-Fi Alliance scraps 802.11 in favour of something slicker

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There’s nothing more annoying that grappling with various Wi-Fi specifications and trying to understand what they all mean. That’s why the Wi-Fi Alliance, a group of companies backing Wi-Fi technological advancements, are doing away with 802.11 and a bunch of letters to differentiate Wi-Fi standards.

Now, thanks to new rules from the Wi-Fi Alliance, manufacturers will be doing away with all the nonsense numbers and letters in favour of something far more straightforward. Say hello to Wi-Fi 6.

Well, technically, you can say hello to Wi-Fi 1 through to Wi-Fi 6 as the Wi-Fi Ailliance is retroactively naming all Wi-Fi standards from 1999’s 802.11b (now Wi-Fi 1) to 2014’s 802.11ac (now Wi-Fi 5). The next-generation of Wi-Fi tech, currently known as 802.11ax, will come into being as Wi-Fi 6.

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The new naming is a godsend for those who aren’t technologically inclined. It’s clearer and more obvious than the previous naming scheme and makes you wonder why that wasn’t the case from the very start. It’s believed that this could help users understand and adopt newer Wi-Fi technologies as they discover their old home router runs on Wi-Fi 3 while all the devices in their house support Wi-Fi 5.

"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, in a press statement. "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."

Major tech companies such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, Intel, MediaTek and Netgear are already on board, and it’s believed other manufacturers also endorse the change.

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While the rollout of the new naming scheme will be slow, especially as products are still on shelves with old branding, it’s believed Netgear will be one of the first to market with the new terminology. In a statement around the announcement, Netgear’s SVP  of connected home products, David Henry, explained: "We believe that this will help customers better understand and appreciate the generational differences in Wi-Fi technology and usher in the latest 802.11ax standard,"

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