Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 Coming in 2019
The Wi-Fi Alliance is getting rid of those arcane 802.11 Wi-Fi names in favor of a easier-to-understand numbering system. Currently, Wi-Fi versions have names like Wi-Fi 802.11 n or Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n. It made it difficult to tell by looking which version is newer.
Here are the Wi-Fi versions in use at this time:
Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (1999)
Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (1999)
Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014
And coming in 2019:
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (2019 est.)
The Wi-Fi Alliance which represents just almost every major company that makes any kind of Wi-Fi product or with “Wi-Fi” in it has now come up with new way to number Wi-Fi version to make it easier for consumers to make choices and know which version is newer. So big changes are on the way as Wi-Fi products drop the confusing 802.11 + letter designations. The old 802.11+letter designation will be replaced with names like Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, and (soon to come) Wi-Fi 6.
The Wi-Fi Alliance says that it’s unlikely that the new names will be immediately universally adopted But the move will gradually be made and it will benefit both consumers and the industry.
Changing over from arcane names to names people can understand will be a big help t consumers because it will be easier for users to understand that between (for example) Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 devices, that Wi-Fi 5 is newer and therefore faster and better.
New Wi-Fi logos for Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, and Wi-Fi 6.
While you will start seeing Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, you won’t see Wi-Fi 1, Wi-Fi 2 or Wi-Fi 3 devices as they are no longer generally in use. But you will begin seeing Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 designations when the new Wi-Fi 6 devices start coming out next year.
Here’s how the new Wi-Fi versions relate to current versions”
Wi-Fi 6 will identify devices that support 802.11ax technology
Wi-Fi 5 will identify devices that support 802.11ac technology
Wi-Fi 4 will identify devices that support 802.11n technology
Wi-Fi 6 is faster and designed to accommodate a large number of connected devices as the world moves deeper into the Internet of Things. Households will have more and more connected devices in the future and Wi-Fi 6 is designed for that kind of environment as well as hotspots and public hotspots which also need to support a great many devices.
When using hotspots , users will see choices on the devices options to connect (for example) to Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6.
The Wi-Fi Alliance says…
“Wi-Fi Alliance® introduces Wi-Fi 6 as the industry designation for products and networks that support the next generation of Wi-Fi®, based on 802.11ax technology. Wi-Fi 6 is part of a new naming approach by Wi-Fi Alliance that provides users with an easy-to-understand designation for both the Wi-Fi technology supported by their device and used in a connection the device makes with a Wi-Fi network….” Read more here.
But don’t get your hopes up for a quick and easy ride to Wi-Fi 6. You’ll need a new router and new devices (laptops, PCs, tablets and/or smartphones, etc.) equipped with hardware to connect to Wi-Fi 6 before you can reap the benefits of the new technology.
But don’t worry if you can’t or don’t want to upgrade your equipment right away. You’ll still be able to connect and get online, but you won’t be able to take advantage of all the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 unless you’re using Wi-Fi 6 capable devices and a Wi-Fi 6 capable router.