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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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New WiFi names

What Is Wi-Fi 6? New Wi-Fi Names Explained

The Wi-Fi Alliance is renaming its Wi-Fi versions. Here's why 802.11n, ac, and ax are becoming Wi-Fi 4, 5, and 6 and what you'll see on routers and devices going forward.

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 01:13 PM
 
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Wish that there was a standard for naming every revision - sort of like ISO documentation - just give it a name for the year when it was created - like 2018v1 or something to understand what is the latest or how old it is.

I'm not that old, but I'm starting to get confused with some things, like Intel chipset naming/numbering.

When I'm 80, I'm going to get really confused like my parents who think all smartphones are "iPhones" and get suckered into buying an outdated Motorola MotoG by a sleazy Bell sales rep telling them it is an iPhone. My dad spent his career running mainframes, building corporate networks, programming, etc since the 1960's and can't even tell the difference between smartphones...

Can't wait to help them install a new 802.11g router in a couple years when their current WIFI stops working and someone else rips them off.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Wish that there was a standard for naming every revision - sort of like ISO documentation - just give it a name for the year when it was created - like 2018v1 or something to understand what is the latest or how old it is.
Actually, they do. Every now and then they update the spec and add the year to the name. For example, I believe the latest is 802.11-2016. Regardless, with this new scheme, the higher number indicates newer.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 01:39 PM
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That is awesome. Try explaining all the AC/N/B stuff to older folks like my dad and mom, they get confizzled. but ya this should help and I actually like it too. great idea
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 09:10 PM
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I don't see that as a good idea. Currently, almost nobody needs anything better than 802.11ac. That will become Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 2013. Wow, a five year old standard, that must be obsolete?! Almost nobody can use Wi-Fi 6 or or Wi-Fi 2019 because the standard is not finalized yet and the are almost no consumer devices that use 802.11ax. (Some chipsets are available based on a preliminary standard.) Chipsets based on the finalized standard probably won't be available until at least mid 2019. In addition, a naming standard based on 6 year intervals won't account for interim updates to the standard that may be included in some devices. These include 802.11ad,af,ah,ai,aq,ay,az,ba,bb.

A lot of people are still using 802.11n AKA Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 2009 and it works perfectly well for many wifi users. I only stopped using an 802.11n router recently and that was to adopt MESH, not because AC was necessary for the location. As soon as these new naming schemes come into effect the upgrade shysters will come out of the woodwork. It's almost as bad as the current naming schemes for routers where speeds are misrepresented to sell people routers they don't need.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 09:18 PM
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For example, I believe the latest is 802.11-2016. Regardless, with this new scheme, the higher number indicates newer.
Newer but not necessarily better. Some standards don't even apply to consumer devices but are for specialized applications such car to car communications. Others are country specific, such as 802.11aj which only works in China. In addition, there are three 802.11 standards for 2018 and two for several other years. Using only the year hides the specifics and could result in people being sold devices that have useless features or don't work for the intended application.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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^^^^
The number I was referring to was the new 5, 6 etc., not the year when all the updates to 802.11 are rolled up into a new package. Regardless, the technology is advancing and while 802.11ac is the latest we can currently get, ax will be along sooner or later. Don't forget, this sort of thing has happened with every change, such as from b to g to n etc.. The spec is proposed, manufacturers roll out pre spec hardware to test and then the final version. Incidentally, at one time 802.11n was as far as 2.4 GHz was supposed to go. Then ax arrived, which provides improved performance on 2.4 GHz, as well as 5. Back when WiFi first started becoming popular, with 802.11b, we were typically running 10 Mb half duplex Ethernet. Since then we've moved to full duplex 100 Mb, Gb and even 10 Gb and WiFi more or less keeps up. I was on one job last week, where CAT6a cable was specified to the access points, because they had 10 Gb Ethernet ports. Everything else was just plain CAT6.

BTW, even stuff like IP changes with time. Take a look at the RFCs and you'll see plenty that are superseded by newer versions.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-05, 10:49 PM
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I get the Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 aspect. Higher numbers are supposed to be better but it will get reduced to a sales gimmick by device and router makers. Some will sell products based on the wifi number and not on real world performance of the product. I think that many people still won't understand the difference and it will cover up a lot of underlying detail that differentiate products.

Speaking of cables, I'm seeing CAT7 and CAT7a cable for sale. It's just a minor upgrade to CAT6a but it's available now.

It's nice to see that 802.11ax (or is that Wi-Fi 6?) will upgrade performance on both bands. With the number of wifi enabled products hitting the market it will be needed. I just wonder how long it will be before everything supports it and 802.11ax can hit its full potential. I have some devices that are stuck at 802.11n on 2.4GHz and plan to keep using them for some time yet. I'll bet there are quite a few 802.11g devices still in operation.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-06, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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Some will sell products based on the wifi number and not on real world performance of the product.
How is that different from now? You can buy good equipment or cheap equipment, no matter what it's called.

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Speaking of cables, I'm seeing CAT7 and CAT7a cable for sale. It's just a minor upgrade to CAT6a but it's available now.
This is one area where people often buy better than needed. Gigabit was designed for CAT5, before 5e was available. There's no need for CAT6 at 1G. CAT6 is needed for 10 Gb, with 6a required to go the full 100M. There's nothing in the consumer market that requires 7. Then again, there are people who buy Monster cables.

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I just wonder how long it will be before everything supports it and 802.11ax can hit its full potential. I have some devices that are stuck at 802.11n on 2.4GHz and plan to keep using them for some time yet. I'll bet there are quite a few 802.11g devices still in operation.
This is where backwards compatibility is nice. Just configure the AP to support the lowest speed you need for your equipment to minimize the performance hit. All WiFi we see, other than 802.11b, uses a modulation technique called Orthogonal Frequency Multiplex Division, so if device hears a slower signal, all it has to do is slow down the header portion of the frame to let the slow devices know how long it will occupy the channel and then shift to the highest speed supported at both ends for the data. The exception is when 802.11b is heard. It uses a completely different modulation called Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum, which is incompatible with all the others. So, if a better device hears b, it first has to transmit a frame just to let the 802.11b device know how long it will occupy the channel and then send the data frame. It is this extra transmission that causes the big performance hit, when 802.11b is used in the presence of g or n. In my home, everything is capable of 802.11n, so I configured my access point to only accept n connections. If I had set it to g, then the SSIDs would be broadcast with 802.11g, telling my neighbours they have to send headers at g speeds, regardless if they had any g devices on their networks.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-06, 09:56 AM
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Then again, there are people who buy Monster cables.
The difference being that CAT6a, CAT7 and CAT7a are actually better performing cables than CAT5, CAT5e or CAT6. They may not be needed now but will be useful in a very few years when 10Gb network devices are more common and 10Gb internet becomes available. The other difference is that CAT6a costs very little more than CAT5 or CAT5e so why not use it? The future cost of replacing cables run though building structure is many times the cost of buying better cables now.

I am aware of backward wifi compatibility. The issue is that 802.11ax will not be beneficial or even a wise purchase for at least a year due to a lack of devices that use it or a final standard. Even then, only the most ardent device upgraders will benefit. Calling it Wi-Fi 6 is just an obfuscation of the facts and will create more consumer confusion and uncertainty in the short term.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-06, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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They may not be needed now but will be useful in a very few years when 10Gb network devices are more common and 10Gb
CAT6 is good enough for 10 Gb, 6A if needed to go beyond what plain 6 does, up to 100 M. CAT7 provides no additional benefit, but it does provide some issues, such as more difficult to work with, using the appropriate connectors, etc..


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The issue is that 802.11ax will not be beneficial or even a wise purchase for at least a year due to a lack of devices that use it or a final standard.
That has happened with every version. Ax is no different. When I bought my access point, n was common and ac was starting to appear pre spec. Same thing happened with n and g before it. Those with a need or excess money will buy the latest and greatest. The rest of us will wait until it's mainstream and a lot less expensive.

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 2018-10-06, 10:59 PM
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I agree that CAT6 is good enough for 10Gb but it's only rated for that up to 164'. Distances and speeds are not set in stone, of course. It depends on how and where they are installed as well as the quality of the cable. Commercial and industrial customers definitely want CAT6a for long runs and noisy environments. Residential customers can easily get away with CAT6.
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