Wi-Fi 6 FAQ: What it is, why you should care, and when it might come to Apple products

Since the beginning, Wi-Fi network standards have been designated by a set of numbers and letters only an engineer could love. 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11ac (there are two letters now?)… how can you possibly expect regular users to know what they’re buying or connecting to?

In a stunningly rational move, the Wi-Fi Alliance (the industry group that sets Wi-Fi standards) has decided to dump the confusing alphabet soup and go with simple version numbers.

The networking standard previously known as 802.11ax will now be known as Wi-Fi 6, and it’s coming in 2019. Here are some answers to common questions about the new standard.

What’s with the new numbers?

The Wi-Fi Alliance has decided that simply using IEEE standard designations on products is probably a little too confusing. Now, instead of seeing routers with “802.11n” and “802.11ac” and such, you’ll see simple generational numbers like “Wi-Fi 3” and “Wi-Fi 5.” Those 802.11 numbers are still there, but they’re not meant to be used in marketing and user-facing menus. It’s the kind of decision they should have made two decades ago.

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