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Revamping their naming scheme for Wi-Fi standards, the Wi-Fi alliance will transition from the complex 802.11 technical designation to a much more accessible and simple numbering system for users. What was widely termed as 802.11ax is now officially termed as Wi-Fi 6. The previous versions 802.11ac and 802.11n are now respectively known as Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4.

New Designation May Be Problematic

The Wi-Fi Alliance’s objective in this new system is to simplify the matching of the endpoint and router capabilities for ordinary users of Wi-Fi. However, some experts think that the presentation of various Wi-Fi technologies through a basic sequential naming scheme may mislead some users.
802.11ad and 802.11ay are 60GHz standards possessing significantly different capabilities and features than 2.4GHz and 5GHz systems. If they were designated as Wi-Fi 7, it would imply they are the improved next generation of similar technology, as opposed to new technology that was designed to carry out very different tasks.

Implementation & Certification

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, manufacturers will have the ability to implement the new naming system as needed in user interfaces. When mobile users switch from one access point to another, the screens of their smartphones will display the standard (Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 5, etc.) utilized to establish the present connection.
The Wi-Fi Alliance’s wireless product certification program will also apply the new numbering system. Beginning in 2020, a product meeting the 802.11ax standard will be granted a “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6” designation.

Benefits of Wi-Fi 6

Aside from greater data rates, Wi-Fi 6 will deliver higher power efficiency and improved performance in dense radio environments. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is considered a potential means of communications for IoT (Internet of Things) devices that are limited in battery life and power capability.
The Wi-Fi 6 “target wake time” feature allows IoT devices to cut their Wi-Fi connections for the majority of the time, connecting only for short scheduled periods for the transmission of data gathered since the previous connection, which greatly extends battery life.
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