Wi-Fi 6 is part of a new naming approach by Wi-Fi Alliance that provides users with an easy designation for both the Wi-Fi technology supported by their device and used in a connection the device makes with a Wi-Fi network.
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
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.