According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the new naming system identifies Wi-Fi generations by a numerical sequence which correspond to major advancements in Wi-Fi. The generation names can be used by product vendors to identify the latest Wi-Fi technology a device supports, by OS vendors to identify the generation of Wi-Fi connection between a device and network, and by service providers to identify the capabilities of a Wi-Fi network to their customers. The generational terminology may also be used to designate previous Wi-Fi generations, such as 802.11n or 802.11ac. The numerical sequence includes:
Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax technology
Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac technology
Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n technology
Each generation of Wi-Fi offers new features – faster speeds, increased throughput, and better experiences. Industry adoption of the new terminology will help users better understand the experience they can expect. Wi-Fi 6 will deliver an improved experience to address device and application needs in a range of consumer and enterprise environments. The generational terminology is expected to be widely adopted by the Wi-Fi ecosystem.
“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,” says Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “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.”
In addition to describing the capabilities of the device, device manufacturers or OS vendors can incorporate the generational terminology in User Interface (UI) visuals to indicate the current type of Wi-Fi connection. The UI visual will adjust as a device moves between Wi-Fi networks so users have real-time awareness of their device connection. Beginning with Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs based on major IEEE 802.11 releases will use a generational Wi-Fi name; Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 certification is coming in 2019.
For more information visit https://www.wi-fi.org/wi-fi-6 and download the Wi-Fi 6 white paper and/or Generational Wi-Fi User Guide.
Response from the industry to this new naming convention was of course enthusiastic. Many semiconductor companies - precisely those whose products are less visible to consumers, all think this is a very positive development.
"Consumers love Wi-Fi – nearly every Internet connected device has it and over 80% of all wireless traffic goes over it. The sixth generation of Wi-Fi - 802.11ax - is the most advanced ever, bringing faster speeds, greater capacity and coverage, and will make the user experience even more enjoyable. This simple, generational representation will let consumers differentiate phones and wireless routers based on their Wi-Fi capabilities, helping them pick the device that suits their needs best. When they see that their device contains Wi-Fi 6, they will know that they have the best wireless connectivity on the market,” says Vijay Nagarajan, senior director of marketing for Wireless Communications and Connectivity at Broadcom.
Aviv Malinovitch, GM of the Connectivity BU at CEVA, adds: “CEVA welcomes the introduction of the clear terminology. We have been licensing MAC and Modem IP for many years and across many generations of the technology spanning 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax. The new naming structure gives a simple and consistent framework to boost user awareness, which is especially important now at the dawn of Wi-Fi 6.”
“Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is a major advancement that keeps Wi-Fi as the technology of choice for local wireless connectivity for consumers and enterprises. Intel will deliver Wi-Fi 6 solutions for both clients and home infrastructure as part of our continued commitment to improve connectivity and security for the best possible user experiences,” states Eric McLaughlin, General Manager of Wireless Solutions, Client Computing Group at Intel Corp.
“Wi-Fi 6, based on 802.11ax technology, will greatly improve the user experience. Real world, dense environments require reliable, secure and consistently excellent download and upload experience. Marvell has worked closely with Wi-Fi Alliance in bringing this technology to market and offers a broad array of products that fully implement Wi-Fi 6, including the technologically and superior upload capabilities,” reveals Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager, Wireless Connectivity Business Unit at Marvell Semiconductor.
Marvell was in fact one the first companies to announce its fully compliant range of 802.11ax products will be branded Wi-Fi 6. Marvell offers a full portfolio of true Wi-Fi 6 solutions — including 8x8, 4x4 and 2x2 radios — targeted at all types of applications. But Marvell already warns, "In the race to be the first to market with Wi-Fi 6 products, some companies are offering draft solutions which claim compliance but fall short of the complete 802.11ax requirements, causing market confusion, incompatibilities and early obsolescence. A complete implementation of Wi-Fi 6 will deliver the highest throughput and lowest latency by enabling multiple users to simultaneously transfer data for both upload and download. The Marvell Wi-Fi 6 solutions fully implement MU-MIMO and OFDMA for upload and download and deliver the highest performance for the user."
"In December, Marvell announced the sampling of the industry's most complete 802.11ax wireless solutions. We are now in early production of these products which fully implement Wi-Fi 6 for the industry's highest performance," adds Montierth.