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802.11x? How Fast Is It? Wi-Fi Standards, Amendments, and Speeds Explained

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 12, 2022 3:47:42 PM / by Blog Team

Blog Team

Wi-Fi Alliance vs. IEEE

Wi-Fi is a trademarked term owned by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology standard that allows devices to communicate over a variety of distances using radio waves.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sets technical standards for all types of wireless technology; however, 802.11 focuses on wireless networking technology standards. The current standard is 802.11ax-2021, which is based on the use of the 6 GHz frequency band for commercial wireless networking. There actually is no 802.11x! 

Devices that are certified as Wi-Fi 6E are adherent to the 802.11ax-2021 standard which mainly covers the use of the 6 GHz frequency band for commercial wireless networking. Each standard that has been released over the past few decades mark large achievements in Wi-Fi technology and faster speeds.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is entirely separate from IEEE. They hold the trademark for the word "Wi-Fi" but their primary purpose is to ensure the interoperability of commercial wireless networking devices. The IEEE creates the 802.11ax standard and Wi-Fi Alliance calls it Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E

The IEEE 802 is a section of the Institute that creates standards for computer networking. The 802.11 subgroup is a team within the Institute that specifically focuses on WLAN technology. They establish wireless networking standards and also add formal amendments to those standards. There is only ever one "standard" at a time, whatever is most recent. At time of writing, 802.11ax-2021 is the official standard. A standard is made from a collection of amendments. 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n are all older IEEE amendments they introduced new technology and new speeds.


The following is a list of 802.11 amendments:


  • 802.11-1997 - the original 802.11 standard introduced in 1997; wireless operation over 2.4 GHz frequency band - max data rate of 2 Mbps
  • 802.11b - introduction of OFDM signal generation technology - max data rate of 11 Mbps (1999)
  • 802.11a - wireless operation over 5 GHz frequency band - max data rate of 54 Mbps (1999)
  • 802.11g - introduction of the 2.4 GHz standard; faster speeds; backwards compatibility (2003)
  • 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) - introduction of Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) allowing for higher throughout - max data rate of 300 Mbps (2009)
  • 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) - introduction of Multi-User MIMO, wireless operation over 5 GHz frequency band; max data rate of 1 Gbps (2013)
  • 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E) - high efficiency WLAN - more enhancements to MU-MIMO, wireless operation over 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies; max data rate of 9.6 Gbps (2019)


**Note: There are no Wi-Fi Alliance generations associated with Wi-Fi 1, Wi-Fi 2, or Wi-Fi 3 but you may see these associated with 802.11b, 802.11a, and 802.11g respectively.


Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E

The name Wi-Fi 6 is a bit of a misnomer. Wi-Fi 6 promised 4x higher throughput over the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, but Wi-Fi 6E brought the 6 GHz band to the table. With access to the 6 GHz band, over 1200 MHz of uncongested bandwidth is now free for use.  Far more channels, including new superwide (160 MHz-wide channels) are now available, and latency and roaming has also been improved. Check out are full explainer on Wi-Fi 6E / 6 GHz.


Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) - Extremely High Throughput

This amendment and soon-to-be standard is still in development, scheduled for final approval around 2024, and promises support for a maximum throughput of 30 to 46 Gbps while maintaining backwards compatibility for legacy devices. These speeds would be enough to support the streaming of 4k and 8k video, which is becoming more and more popular. With extremely low latency, we're expecting to see massive improvements in video conferencing and cloud computing. 


Scanning for 6 GHz Wi-Fi

Looking for a wi-fi scanning tool that supports Wi-Fi 6E and 6 GHz wi-fi? Check out our app, WiFi Scanner for Windows. Try for free at the link below!


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Topics: WiFi

Blog Team

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