The WiFi Alliance wants to rebrand WiFi in a way that’s certainly less wordy, but still requires a techy-translation unless you’re a WiFi devotee.
A consortium of companies that bring consumers wireless internet, the WiFi Alliance, announced new naming standards for different kinds of networks on Wednesday.
Previously, networks that could connect over different sorts of connections were called things like WiFi 802.11ac or WiFi 802.11ax. Those alphanumeric codes referred to the frequency, speed, and other particularities of the network. Now, the alliance wants to denote the capabilities of different networks by simply calling them WiFi 4, WiFi 5, or WiFi 6.
Simple? Yes! Meaningful? Sort of. 4, 5, and 6 can pretty much be translated to good, better, and best. So if you know that “translation,” then it should be easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the WiFi networks they’re connecting to. For example, a WiFi network can have multiple frequencies, but the highest frequency can’t support every device at once. With 4, 5, and 6, a household can allocate the 5 or 6 network to the most WiFi-needy device, and the 4 to the least.
That’s helpful, and is also a good guide if you’re buying products that connect to WiFi, like routers or cellphones; products will likely come marked with “WiFi 6” certifications. But the numbers, though simplified from their alphanumeric codes, are still stand-ins for relatively simple concepts like “high, medium, and low” or “good, better, best.”
So good effort WiFi Alliance. Now let’s take that common sense one step further.