What’s in a name?
Is Wi-Fi 6 easier to understand than 802.11ax?
November 20, 2018 in
We don’t yet have any devices supporting the new Wi-Fi standard 802.11ax that is set to make a big difference to the capacity of Wi-Fi networks. If you haven’t yet got up to speed, pun intended, on this new standard see our earlier blog that explains why it is so important, for reasons that have nothing to do with speed! Enterprise Wi-Fi vendors have already started to release 802.11ax access points, Aerohive were first out of the blocks and others are following in their trail. The big consumer brands are also set to release several new ax compatible devices in 2019. However most users with the new devices won’t see a difference for a while as there won’t be many “ax” access points deployed next year. Will consumers care? How many users outside of the geek community know the difference between “ac”, “n” or “ax” anyway? Sometimes technology standards bodies seem to create acronyms and terminology to deliberately confuse the average user to foster technical elitism. Refreshingly, the Wi-Fi Alliance has taken a very different approach, releasing new simple easy to understand labels for Wi-Fi standards. Under their new nomenclature 802.11ax is simply called Wi-Fi 6 with 802.11ac and 802.11n called Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 respectively. It makes it easier for consumers to understand what they are buying and look for the best performance when comparing devices, and easier for organisations to compare when evaluating access points.
While there is more to choosing an access point then playing Top Access Points: The Battle of the APs, although if you want to do that you can do that here, forward thinking organisations will want to future proof their networks. Choosing the best vendors technology for your application, and even more importantly choosing the best partner to help you design, install and support your network, should remain the priority when evaluating APs. Renaming the standard they comply with won’t change that. It’s also true that technical decision makers will already be fully conversant with the old terminology and understand the differences between “ac”, “n” and “ax” but this will make it easier for them to communicate to commercial colleagues the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 over Wi-Fi 5. Anything that makes their jobs easier should be welcomed.
In summary the IEEE 802.11 standards will become officially known as follows;
- 802.11b (1999)
- 802.11a (1999)
- 802.11g (2003)
- Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
- Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)
- Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax (2018
Unofficially “b”, “a” and “g” may become known as Wi-Fi 1, 2 and 3, but, as all standards are backwards compatible and no one is still making any of these products, it is irrelevant.
Of course consumers of devices and purchasers of AP s may still be confused that Wi-Fi 6 isn’t “faster” then Wi-Fi 5. Changing the name won’t provide faster connection speeds, even though Wi-Fi 6 will deliver a much better user experience through increased capacity! But that’s a very different topic!
If you want to find out more about how a Wi-Fi 6 enabled AP can improve your users experience please contact AIT.