Networking

Wi-Fi is rebranding itself: Here's how to understand the new naming

The Wi-Fi Alliance group has announced new names for common Wi-Fi specifications, to help eliminate confusion around the standards.

Tech is full of confusing acronyms and abbreviations, and Wi-Fi standards are some of the most difficult to understand. To simplify the specifications and standards, the Wi-Fi Alliance trade group has announced a new naming system for these Wi-Fi standards.

According to a Wednesday press release, the new approach will name the generations in a numerical sequence relative to new advancements in Wi-Fi technology. This will make it easier for vendors to denote which standards their devices support, for service providers to explain what their network offers, and for users to understand which products work with which standards.

Each evolution of Wi-Fi technology brings advances in speed and throughput. However, it's often difficult to understand each standard at a glance, due to their reliance on a string of numbers and letters to designate their generation.

SEE: Wireless networking policy (Tech Pro Research)

Based on the new naming standards, here's what the new Wi-Fi names will look like:

  • 802.11n technology will now be referred to as Wi-Fi 4
  • 802.11ac technology will now be referred to as Wi-Fi 5
  • 802.11ax technology will now be referred to as Wi-Fi 6

"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 CEO Edgar Figueroa said in the release. "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."

The release also noted that UI designers can use the new terminology in their products to help users understand what standard they're connected to in real-time. The new naming system will go into effect with the Wi-Fi 6 certification, which is due to be released in 2019.

Industry leaders seem to support the move, with companies like Ruckus Networks, Intel, Aruba. Marvell Semiconductor, Broadcom, and more noting their approval of the new system in the press release.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • The Wi-Fi Alliance announced a new naming system for Wi-Fi standards that will use a numerical sequence to denote new advances in Wi-Fi technology.
  • 802.11n will be Wi-Fi 4, 802.11ac will be Wi-Fi 5, and 802.11ax will be Wi-Fi 6, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Also see

wifi.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/grapestock

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox