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Wi-Fi 6: What It Means To You

Rowell Dionicio

Announced October 3, 2018, a new name for Wi-Fi was created. Wi-Fi 6 is the new designation for 802.11ax.

Traditionally, Wi-Fi was designated under its standard:

  • Wi-Fi 6 is identified with 802.11ax (currently 802.11ax is in draft)
  • Wi-Fi 6E (extended) identifies access points and devices supporting 6 GHz
  • Wi-Fi 5 is identified with 802.11ac
  • Wi-Fi 4 is identified with 802.11n

The new naming convention is to help provide a method that’s easy to understand. The latest number will reference the latest wireless technology.

Wi-Fi 6 nomenclature was created by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an organization which certifies devices under certain wireless certification programs.

What Does This Mean?

Moving forward, you will begin to see new designations on wireless devices such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and access points. If it is built on the 802.11ax draft, then it is Wi-Fi 6.

Purchasing wireless devices will become easier for those who are not necessarily up-to-date with the technology lingo.

But take caution on trusting a device is Wi-Fi 6. 802.11ax is not a standard yet. It is still a draft at the time of this writing.

When considering your next upgrade, think about how many clients are at least Wi-Fi 5 (there are no Wi-Fi 6 clients yet). Wi-Fi 6 access points may look appealing but they are based on the draft of 802.11ax. It may be bleeding edge technology, or maybe future proofing but 802.11ax has not been fully tested with APs and clients yet.

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) will bring efficiency to Wi-Fi and hopefully better user experience.

I do not recommend upgrading any Wi-Fi 6 access points yet. Purchase a Wi-Fi 6 access point and test it before deploying it to production.

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