New WiFi Naming Scheme: 802.11n Becomes WiFi 4, 802.11ac WiFi 5, 802.11ax WiFi 6

Terminology used by engineers may be confusing for end-users, so for example in the TV market 720p becomes “HD Ready”, 1080p “Full HD”, and 4K may be referred to “Ultra HD”. A few years ago, I tried to buy a 1080p TV, and the seller was really confused at first saying they only had “HD Ready” or “Full HD” televisions. Two terms I had personally never heard of myself, but eventually we managed to understand each other…

Up to now the official IEEE name for different WiFi standards like 802.11n, 802.11ac, or the new 802.11ax may have been a little confusing to consumers. So the WiFi alliance has decided to launch a new scheme naming scheme.


We’ll soon have to refer to 802.11n routers as WiFi 4 routers, AC routers as WiFi 5 routers, and it will probably be less confusing for 802.11ax routers since I expect them to be sold as WiFi 6 routers once they become more broadly available.

WiFi 6 IconThe new naming convention may have impact the WiFi signal strength icon shown in your computer, mobile device, or other WiFi enable devices with a display,  as a number may be added to indicate a WiFi 6, 5 or 4 connection has been established. This is optional, but I suspect many companies will implement this since it’s not such a big change to the code.

You’ll find more details including guidelines for the naming convention and visuals in WiFi Alliance website.

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