Wifi Version Numbering

From LinuxReviews
Jump to navigationJump to search

The WIFI industry decided that using actual proper names for WIFI standards is "too complicated" for the vast majority of non-geek people in 2018 and re-branded all the standard named everyone knows to simple version numbers where higher is better. As an example, Wireless 802.11n is, using the simple numbering system, just "Wifi 4". The idea is that people can look at a device or router and use a simple number to get an idea of how good it is.

Actual Wifi-standard names and simplified names

Standard name Marketing name Year Band(s) Speed
Typical (1x1) 2x2 Max
802.11b Wifi 1 1999 2.4 GHz 11Mbps Dialog-cancel.svg 11Mbps
802.11a Wifi 2 1999 5GHz 54Mbps Dialog-cancel.svg 54Mbps
802.11g Wifi 3 2003 2.4 GHz 54Mbps Dialog-cancel.svg 54Mbps
802.11n Wifi 4 2009 2.4 or 5 GHz 72 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
150Mbps (5 GHz)
300Mbps (5 GHz) 600Mbps (4x4)
802.11ac Wifi 5 2014 5 GHz 433 Mbps 867 Mbps 6.77 Gbps (8-antenna 120 MHz)
802.11ax Wifi 6 2019 2.4 or 5 GHz 600 Mbps 1200 Mbps 10 Gbps
Note: The typical column shows you what you can realistically expect to get. 2x2 shows what you can get with some laptops and more expensive phones. The "Max" column has no relation to reality or practical use-cases. You could buy two overpriced 802.11ac routers with 8 antennas and set them up in a remote area with no interference and establish a 6.77 Gbps link between them. You will never get those speeds in any practical scenario.

Using the "simple" numbers may seem foolish from a technical perspective. However, those are what modern mobile devices indicate which means that most people will simply see a number on their display and judge the network connection based on how high it is. Knowing what the simplified numbers actually mean is therefore a good idea.