11ax is dead. It's now Wi-Fi 6.

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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
wifi6_header.png
Just as the Wi-Fi industry is racing to get draft 11ax products to market, the Wi-Fi Alliance today said it would like us all to adopt a new naming scheme.

The Alliance's announcement briefly describes the new naming scheme, which includes renaming 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5 and 802.11n to Wi-Fi 4 and includes the requisite quotes from manufacturers praising the Alliance for its wisdom.

The quotes not withstanding, we'll all get to see how router makers handle the transition. A quick check of Qualcomm, Broadcom and NETGEAR's 11ax landing pages show none have yet made the change. (NETGEAR - feel free to use the rework of your AX page's header above. You're welcome.)

Only Marvell has gotten with the program quickly with its Wi-Fi 6 announcement and Wi-Fi 6 Solutions landing page (although it retains the https://www.marvell.com/wireless/80211ax/ URL).

Given the industry's penchant for each manufacturer doing its own rebranding of technology standards, this will be interesting to watch. I can imagine the joy in Wi-Fi product marketing teams as they face the task of updating websites, brochures and product boxes to fall in line with this new program.

The main advantage this gives the Wi-Fi industry is that it lets it pit "Wi-Fi 6" against the cellular crowd's "5G". Let the marketing games continue...
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Would have been great if it had been applied from the beginning. Doing so now will bring a LOT of confusion.

"Is my wifi 802.11n router compatible with my USB Wifi 6 adapter?"
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Given the industry's penchant for each manufacturer doing its own rebranding of technology standards, this will be interesting to watch. I can imagine the joy in Wi-Fi product marketing teams as they face the task of updating websites, brochures and product boxes to fall in line with this new program.

Hopefully, they were aware ahead of time that such a change might be coming. I find it unlikely that the Wifi Alliance worked behind closed door over slices of pizza to come up with that name late last night. ;)

But those who are already shipping products right now or in the coming weeks (Asus RT-AX88U comes to mind), they are facing with an initial inventory all missing the new naming convention on the packaging/manuals/etc...

It sounds as poorly planned/timed as the switch to USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 to distinguish USB 3.0 and USB 3 .1.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
This was certainly widely discussed before. Whether WFA partners comply is another thing...
 

Balance

Regular Contributor
Overall I think it's a good idea. It makes life much simpler for the average user. We will still be using IEEE names, so that's fine. I have two concerns:
  • How to differentiatie number of spatial streams / MIMO. I think manufacturers will solve that by just putting a bigger number on the box (Wi-Fi 6 - 11000 Mb/s!)
  • How to differentiate definitive feature set ('Wave 2') and draft feature set ('Wave 1'). This one is more tricky.
Anyway, I feel very sad for Broadcom. They were so smart with their 'Max' branding. Mirroring the first 1 of 11ax was genius.

 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
How to differentiate definitive feature set ('Wave 2') and draft feature set ('Wave 1'). This one is more tricky.
The Generational Wi-Fi User Guide prohibits variations:
The format of generation names is simply “Wi-Fi” followed by a whole number. Generation names shall not contain additional text or description. Generation names shall not have versions identified. For example, Wi-Fi 5.1, Wi-Fi Version 5.2, or Advanced Wi-Fi 5 shall not be used.
 

bidi

Occasional Visitor
Personally I think 802.11ax sounds sexier than Wifi 6

unfortunately the standard naming convention would have ended up in a confusing mess rather quickly. we're at ax now, thee revisions later we'd be at ba, then bb, then... wait for it... bg. and further on, bn. so just imagine how manufacturers would have to explain to older customers that we're not going back to 802.11 b and g. i'm pretty tech literate, and i was even confused by ac, because i just didn't make the connection with the way other authorities such as ASHRAE label their addenda to standards. i just thought "why are we going back to a... what is c... shouldn't we be moving towards z?" the large gap between n and ac didn't help my understanding either. i don't even want to imagine explaining these to my parents... larger numbers on the box are easier for everyone. they should have just allowed for +, maybe, like we have 3G, 3G+, 4G and 4G+. just to minimize inflation a little bit.
 

ikjadoon

Occasional Visitor
If this is to "help consumers"....I would've appreciated had the Wi-Fi Alliance provided better WPA3 requirements, too.

WiFi Easy Connect shouldn't have been dropped from WPA3 certification: very confusing for consumers. Are we giving up authenticating devices without displays, as IoT devices take over in the next half-decade?

It should've been rebranded as such:

WiFi 1: 801.11ax + WPA3 + Easy Connect

Why...did they need to rename all the old standards? No manufacturer is going to go back and rebrand or explain any of this for older products.

Just as insane as "USB 3.1 Gen1". No. Stop. Just leave it USB 3.0 and then create USB 3.1 only for 10Gbps. People get that. People don't get when the box just says "USB 3.1".
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Given the industry's penchant for each manufacturer doing its own rebranding of technology standards, this will be interesting to watch. I can imagine the joy in Wi-Fi product marketing teams as they face the task of updating websites, brochures and product boxes to fall in line with this new program.

Read thru the branding guide - it's optional for the members to join...

It's a decent effort, time will tell if this gets any real traction - probably better than the whole Letter/Number scheme that many used - N300, AC1900 made a bit of sense, but the numbers race did get a bit out of hand...
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Letter/Number scheme that many used - N300, AC1900 made a bit of sense, but the numbers race did get a bit out of hand...

This new naming scheme is in no way intended to replace this. It's intended to replace the old 802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11ax names.

You will still get your AX11000 and AC9600 labels regardless of this.
 

zerodegrekelvin

Regular Contributor
Honestly, WFA does not create any standards, they just rebrand/reshuffle specs from IEEE into some kind of certifications and have the members to pay them to ensure they comply with the so called certifications.
As a consumer, do I really care about those certifications, certainly not, what I care is the router vendors to sale decent products that simply work!
I have been involved in WFA certification as a wifi dev, it is a pain in the butt for something nobody cares except the marketing brochure.
As an enterprise customer, the wifi vendor better have their stuff work, I never see any enterprise RFI requested any WFA stuff.
For wifi testing, UNH is much more serious.
I am appalled by people who thing consumer are dump, please spend an afternoon at the BestBuy wifi alley, of course they are overwhelmed by the jargon, 2x2,3x3,4x4 bgn/ac/ax streams... :cool: what they look for is reliability, most comments I hear is "my house wifi sucks, I trained my kids how to reboot the router".
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Honestly, WFA does not create any standards, they just rebrand/reshuffle specs from IEEE into some kind of certifications and have the members to pay them to ensure they comply with the so called certifications.

WFA doesn't write the standards - but they do write test plans, and they certify labs to conduct those test plans.

I was involved with both IEEE and WFA, and yes, there's a bit of friction sometimes, but IEEE doesn't want to get into the "business" side of things, as that's outside of their charter - so WFA (which actually has many of the same companies involved) handles the business and marketing side...

Keeping in mind that IEEE stops at the MAC layer, so for more of the stack, one has to go to IETF, and IETF does not write test plans - so WFA does step in there for the networking and upper layers...

Not that much different than 3GPP/PTCRB/GSMA, 3GPP2/CDG/CTIA, or IEEE 802.16/WiMax forum...

I have been involved in WFA certification as a wifi dev, it is a pain in the butt for something nobody cares except the marketing brochure.

It's just a pain as the test plans are written fairly well enough to ensure interoperability across different vendors and to cover the cross group conformance - so it does focus on protocol compliance at a minimum, along with some RF compliance across FCC and EU's RED at a minimum.
 

zerodegrekelvin

Regular Contributor
WFA doesn't write the standards - but they do write test plans, and they certify labs to conduct those test plans.

I was involved with both IEEE and WFA, and yes, there's a bit of friction sometimes, but IEEE doesn't want to get into the "business" side of things, as that's outside of their charter - so WFA (which actually has many of the same companies involved) handles the business and marketing side...

Keeping in mind that IEEE stops at the MAC layer, so for more of the stack, one has to go to IETF, and IETF does not write test plans - so WFA does step in there for the networking and upper layers...

Not that much different than 3GPP/PTCRB/GSMA, 3GPP2/CDG/CTIA, or IEEE 802.16/WiMax forum...



It's just a pain as the test plans are written fairly well enough to ensure interoperability across different vendors and to cover the cross group conformance - so it does focus on protocol compliance at a minimum, along with some RF compliance across FCC and EU's RED at a minimum.
Well, let me remind you WPS was introduced by WFA, and I don't need to tell you why WFA did it, but history has shown how much a joke WPS is with respect to security, and yet most of shipping devices still have WPS on it. WFA did not address WPS, all the vendors did in one way or another to work around the flaw.
On every SDK release from chipset vendors, we have to make sure the damn WPS is not enabled by accident.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Well, let me remind you WPS was introduced by WFA, and I don't need to tell you why WFA did it, but history has shown how much a joke WPS is with respect to security, and yet most of shipping devices still have WPS on it. WFA did not address WPS, all the vendors did in one way or another to work around the flaw.
On every SDK release from chipset vendors, we have to make sure the damn WPS is not enabled by accident.

Yeah, but WPS was never a "standard" in the realm of IEEE - it built upon 802.11i, but extended it well beyond that scope, and the implementation has been less than excellent...

Some loose consensus by the vendors, along with a strong marketing campaign - and fairly broken more than a few times - aka Reaper and the like...
 
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