Wi-Fi Alliance finally concedes 802.11 is too geeky a name for types of wifi

The supremely geeky 802.11 brand almost certainly alienates regular punters so the decision has belated been made to change it.

For some reason the only way we have had of differentiating generations of wifi technology to date has been to write down 802.11 and then stick some letters after it. Understandably this has failed to resonate with the mass market and therefore presumably made it difficult to offer the latest generation as a unique selling point to baffled potential router buyers.


The current best version of wifi on offer is 802.11ax, which was preceded by the equally catchy 802.11ac. It’s not like there’s even much of rationale to the naming – what happened to 802.11ad-aw? And before that we had 802.11n…WTF? So now we’re getting a simple numerical progression, culminating in ‘Wi-Fi 6’ to represent 802.11ax. It even has a logo.

“For nearly two decades, wifi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest wifi,” said Edgar Figueroa, 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 wifi users easily understand the wifi generation supported by their device or connection.”

You may have noticed that the house style is to write wifi in its simplest form, that’s because writing ‘Wi-Fi’ all the time is a pain. We call upon the Wi-Fi alliance to stop mucking about with grammar and punctuation, seeing as it’s suddenly so keen on simplifying stuff. Loads of other people felt compelled to say stuff about this move. It’s probably all just generic white noise but it only takes a second to copy and paste so here they are.


“Aerohive enthusiastically supports Wi-Fi Alliance’s new consumer-friendly Wi-Fi 6 naming convention in support of the emergence of IEEE’s new 802.11ax technology. Wi-Fi Alliance is now providing consumers the same type of generational Wi-Fi naming conventions to match what cellular technology has done since the beginning. Wi-Fi technology has evolved and improved over the last 21 years – from only a few megabits to several Gigabit speeds – yet this information is currently not provided. With Wi-Fi 6, consumers can easily identify the level of Wi-Fi provided and demand superior services. Additionally, we look forward to Wi-Fi Alliance’s launch of their Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ certification program next year, and will submit our latest generation of Aerohive devices for certification at the first opportunity.” – Perry Correll, product management director, Aerohive Networks

“AirTies commends Wi-Fi Alliance for simplifying Wi-Fi naming conventions and making them more consumer friendly. We look forward to using the term Wi-Fi 6, instead of 802.11ax, and educating our customers about the next-generation of Wi-Fi services and capabilities.” – Metin Taskin, CTO of AirTies 

“Wi-Fi has evolved significantly since Aruba was founded 16 years ago – from its initial role as a secondary network within the enterprise enabling mobility to the mission-critical role it plays today as the primary connectivity method for billions of devices, users, and things. We applaud this effort by Wi-Fi Alliance to simplify the terminology used to differentiate between the different generations of technologies as it will help users more quickly and easily discern the technology their particular device or network supports.” – Lissa Hollinger, Vice President of Portfolio Marketing for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

 “Wi-Fi has revolutionized nearly every aspect of the last two decades, fueling significant social and economic development. As we enter a new generation of connectivity, Wi-Fi isn’t resting on its laurels. We’re packing in new capabilities that deliver blazing fast speeds, high throughput, ultra-low latency, enhanced security and new features like target wake time for a seamless connected experience across a wide range of use cases. Boingo is proud to be part of this generational Wi-Fi launch and work alongside Wi-Fi Alliance to establish programs that further evolve the wireless ecosystem.” – Dr. Derek Peterson, chief technology officer, Boingo Wireless

“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.”
– Vijay Nagarajan, senior director of marketing for Wireless Communications and Connectivity at Broadcom  

 “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.” – Aviv Malinovitch, GM of the Connectivity BU at CEVA

“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.” – 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.”  – Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager, Wireless Connectivity Business Unit at Marvell Semiconductor

“Wi-Fi Alliance’s mission to connect everyone and everything aligns with MediaTek’s vision to make great technology accessible to everyone. As consumers depend on fast, reliable connectivity to support the growing number of connected devices in their homes, this new terminology will help consumers better understand the latest Wi-Fi technology advancements and make more informed buying decisions for their connectivity needs.” – Finbarr Moynihan, VP of Corporate Sales & Business Development (Americas & Europe) at MediaTek

“NETGEAR welcomes an easy way to highlight for customers what level of Wi-Fi technology they are using. We believe this will help customers better understand and appreciate the generational differences in Wi-Fi technology and usher in the latest 802.11ax standard.” – David Henry, senior vice president of Connected Home Products for NETGEAR

 “Given the central role Wi-Fi plays in delivering connected experiences to hundreds of millions of people every day, and with next generation technologies like 802.11ax emerging, the Wi-Fi Alliance generational naming scheme for Wi-Fi is an intuitive and necessary approach to defining Wi-Fi’s value for our industry and consumers alike. We support this initiative as a global leader in Wi-Fi shipments and deployment of Wi-Fi 6, based on 802.11ax technology, along with customers like Ruckus, Huawei, NewH3C, KDDI Corporation/NEC Platforms, Charter Communications, KT Corp, and many more spanning enterprise, venue, home, mobile and computing segments.” – Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, connectivity and networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

“As one of the first Wi-Fi Alliance members, Ruckus Networks supports the new Wi-Fi Alliance naming scheme. This campaign will help the networking ecosystem better identify the different generations of Wi-Fi technologies in future releases.” – Greg Beach, Vice President of Wireless Products, Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS company.


  1. Avatar darak 05/10/2018 @ 9:39 am

    You may not find the names sexy but before saying there is no logic to them take the time to inform yourself. In the IEEE 802.11 standard small letters are used to design amendments to the standard but not all of those amendments actually redefine the Wi-Fi signal, most of them just add a few features. So 802.11ad-aw actually exist and define additional features. So no 802.11 was never a brand, it was and still is the name of the standard which defines how Wi-Fi (which is the actual brand) works.

  2. Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 05/10/2018 @ 9:53 am

    Thank you for that meticulous explanation of the naming structure of successive wifi standards. I will in future endeavour to inform myself to a sufficiently geeky level.

    • Avatar Darak 08/10/2018 @ 12:32 pm

      Now re-reading my comment I realize the tone I have used is rather brusque, this was not my intention and I apologize if it was perceived in that way. My intention was only to provide an element of clarification.

      • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 08/10/2018 @ 12:42 pm

        No worries Darak, comments far more brusque than yours are fairly common. Sincere thanks for the clarification and you may not have been aware that we tend to report with a deliberately irreverent, satirical voice here, which in this case led me to over-simplify the situation in a bid for comic effect. The fact still remains, however, that 802.11 was an awkward way of referring to generations of wifi technology and the new way is a distinct improvement.

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