In an effort to educate the general consumer, streamline the process, and create a more powerful standard, the Wi-Fi Alliance is ready to unveil Wi-Fi 6.
Although it is unreleased, Wi-Fi 6 does more than just bring more power to the table. Namely, in its, well, name. Wi-Fi 6 will the successor to the latest standard 802.11ac which should explain why the Wi-Fi Alliance has decided to change the name. It will also retroactively change the other standards - despite older standards generally not being used - in numerical order as follows:
- 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)
From a consumer educational standpoint, it is a godsend. No more explaining which letter works with what, or why ac is better than n but a is so much worse than the others. It is a straightforward naming convention. It will also visually show on devices connected to the network which standard they are. You, and your clients, can expect to see the numerical marketing appear over the next year or so. However, that is totally reliant on if companies want to use it or pretend that 802.11ax - the forthcoming standard - is more important.
“The Wi-Fi Alliance expects very broad adoption of the term,” Kevin Robinson, the Alliance’s marketing chief, said in a phone call with The Verge. “It’s very unlikely it will be immediately universally adopted — that is just not the way any of these things work. But the industry will move to this generational approach of naming, and ultimately the consumers and industry both will benefit from that move.”
We've been looking at Wi-Fi and faster internet standards from the impending 5G revolution for a while, but this is the first look at what that tangibly brings to the table. Currently, we benchmark 5GHz at about 1,300Mbit/s and Wi-Fi 6 wants to smoke that number as well. But it's also bringing a few tricks thanks to frequency-division multiplexing to squeeze more bandwidth for both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz network.
Importantly, a bigger network and more speed means 8K streaming over Wi-Fi becomes possible. Theoretically, a 2.4GHz band can push 1.1Gbit/s and a 5GHz band can push up to 4.8Gbit/s. And that's just the rough numbers. It's possible that we could get somewhere closer to 10Gbit/s on the 5GHz band, a speed that has been achieved in lab results.
The entire movement will also bring a slew of new hardware, firmware, and refinements to the entire industry. Improved efficiency will affect power draw and retro-firmware updates could improve current technology.
But hold tight for now as Wi-Fi 6 doesn't hit the scene until sometime next year.