802.11 – WTF? Now its Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6, and beyond

Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6

The Wi-Fi Alliance has made a significant rebranding of the 802.11 Wi-Fi standards. 802.11 N will be known as Wi-Fi 4 and its successors AC and AX will be known as Wi-Fi 5 and 6.

It is not to ‘infinity and beyond’ but to Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6, and beyond – just like the seemingly infinite number of Rambo movies.

Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6

Strangely missing is 802.11 AD or WiGig – an orphaned standard that relies on a new 60GHz Wi-Fi band for multi-gigabit, low-latency connectivity. It seems that mainstream routers will skip that step and go to AX which remains backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 4 and 5.

Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance, said

For nearly two decades, Wi-Fi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi Alliance is excited to introduce Wi-Fi 6, and present a new naming scheme to help industry and Wi-Fi users easily understand the Wi-Fi generation supported by their device or connection.

Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6

There will still be a ‘speed’ rating using the combined router’s bandwidth, and we will see terms like Beam Forming, MIMO, MU-MIMO, Adaptive QoS, antenna numbers (8×8) and more. Routers can be certified with Wi-Fi Alliance as well for extra consumer confidence.

So, what is Wi-Fi 6

It is the next generation of Wi-Fi and its faster, better, more power efficient and designed to meet the needs of IoT and high traffic devices like 4K video streaming. It is also backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 4, and 5 in that is can fall back to single band 2.4GHz and dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

There are some new terms to come to terms with.

  • Uplink and downlink orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) increases efficiency and lowers latency for high demand environments 
  • 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM) enables peak gigabit speeds for emerging, bandwidth-intensive use cases 
  • Improved medium access control (MAC) control signalling increases throughput and capacity while reducing latency 
  • Increased symbol durations make outdoor network operations more robust
  • Premium routers may have onboard security from AV partners, automatic fall back to 4/5G and Bluetooth connectivity to enable streaming to multi-room devices.
  • Mesh versions will come sometime after the normal versionS are released.
  • Prices are likely to start at A$800 and go up from there. Manufacturers see lots of life left in Wi-Fi 5 AC routers so don’t panic thinking you need to upgrade.

What all this means

It can provide up to 11Gbits (That is Wi-Fi 6 11,000) and a dedicated 5Gbits to a device.

A 37% increase in data transmission rate but a 4x increase in throughput due to more efficient spectrum utilisation. Even if you use Wi-Fi 4 or 5 (AC), you will get improved throughput.

Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6
  • D-Link will launch the AX11000  and an X6000 and X9000 series router
  • ASUS will have the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000   aimed at home and gaming with a 6,000 version as well
  • NETGEAR  will have Nighthawk X12 to X16 6,000 and faster
Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6

Whatever comes out GadgetGuy will independently test, explain features and benefits and advise readers of value and issues in the adoption the next generation Wi-Fi 6.