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It’s Wi-Fi but not as you know it.
The Wi-Fi Alliance™, the organisation that co-ordinates companies that design and produce Wi-Fi™ electronics and certifies their compatibility, has decided to re-brand Wi-Fi using more user friendly designations. The new emerging standard technically known as IEEE 802.11ax will be marketed as “Wi-Fi 6” and to put it into context the current IEEE 802.11ac will be “backwards branded” as “Wi-Fi 5”, and the older, but still widely, used IEEE 802.11n will be known as “Wi-Fi 4”.
The IEEE standards names (802.11) will remain the official technical names but the Wi-Fi Alliance ™ thinks the new marketing names will help people understand compatibility between their devices in a world where Wi-Fi is ubiquitous.
Previous versions (802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g) are not getting new names so they will NOT be known as “Wi-Fi 1”, “Wi-Fi 2” and “Wi-Fi 3”because you can’t buy new devices supporting these standards. So when your Great Grandchildren ask you “What came before Wi-Fi 4”? you will know the answer.
Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices will start appearing in 2019 and is a further step to address the challenges of Wi-Fi in an always connected world by providing not only increased speed but better power efficiency and better performance in dense user environments. So you should get longer battery life and a better connection in crowded areas on your smartphone.
Here’s the technical bit – Wi-Fi 6 uses the same radio frequency spectrum as existing standards but makes better use of it. Although the standard hasn’t been finalised yet it is expected that Wi-Fi 6 will support up to 1.1Gbps transfer rates in the 2.4Ghz band and 4.8 Gbps in the 5Ghz band by using 1024 bit QAM and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access and MU-MIMO technology will allow multiple simultaneous data streams from the same router.
As in previous releases Wi-Fi 6 will be backwards compatible with the older standards so you don’t have to throw away all your old devices all at once though of course you won’t get the benefits of improved speeds until both your device, router and Internet connections have been upgraded.