WiFi Alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes WiFi technology and certifies WiFi products for conformity to certain standards of interoperability. While the WiFi Alliance owns the WiFi trademark, manufacturers may use the trademark to brand certified products that have been tested for interoperability.
The WiFi Alliance recently released a marketing program with new consumer-friendly naming convention to generations of WiFi, based upon major WiFi technology (PHY) releases. WiFi generation names provide manufacturers, operators, and end users with an easy to understand description for both the WiFi technology contained in a device and the connection that device makes with a WiFi network.
This new generational WiFi name includes several elements:
- WiFi generation names
- User Interface visuals
- WiFi Alliance certification program names
- WiFi Alliance certification program logo
WiFi Generation Names
The WiFi Alliance introduced a new generational naming system. The new naming system identifies WiFi generations by a numerical sequence which correspond to major advancements in WiFi. The generation names can be used by product vendors to identify the latest WiFi technology a device supports, by OS vendors to identify the generation of WiFi connection between a device and network, and by service providers to identify the capabilities of a WiFi network to their customers.
Below are the IEEE 802.11 PHY to corresponding WiFi Alliance generation names.
- WiFi 4 = 802.11n
- WiFi 5 = 802.11ac
- WiFi 6 = 802.11ax
Generation names for older technology wasn’t part of the marketing program but by following the same pattern, one can assume the corresponding generational numbers would be something like below.
- WiFi 0 = 802.11
- WiFi 1 = 802.11b
- WiFi 2 = 802.11a
- WiFi 3 = 802.11g
User Interface Visuals
Usage and requirements for each of the generation name elements are explained below.
WiFi devices may also use a user interface (UI) icon on the display to identify the generation of a network connection. The icons will display a WiFi signal indicator and a numerical representation of the connection. Icons will adjust as users move between WiFi networks that provide a different user experience. When a user device displays a signal indicator icon accompanied by the number 6, indicating a WiFi 6 connection, that device is utilizing the most advanced version of WiFi available.
Below are samples showing customized UI indicators based on several popular operating systems.
WiFi Alliance Certification Program Names
Beginning with the WiFi 6 generation, WiFi Alliance certification programs for major PHY releases in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands will use a WiFi generation name. The certification program associated with 802.11ax, or WiFi 6 technology, will be marketed as WiFi CERTIFIED 6. Previous certification program names will not be adjusted, but will continue as WiFi CERTIFIED ac, WiFi CERTIFIED n, etc.
WiFi Alliance Certification Program Logo
The logo on products and products packaging will change from a PHY based logo (a, b, g, n, ac) to generation based logo.