Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Wi-Fi gets versioned

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that it’s replacing the alphabet soup of versions with version numbers. Here’s Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge, breaking it down:

All of those convoluted codenames are being changed. So instead of the current Wi-Fi being called 802.11ac, it’ll be called Wi-Fi 5 (because it’s the fifth version). It’ll probably make more sense this way, starting with the first version of Wi-Fi, 802.11b:

Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (1999)
Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (1999)
Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)

Much as I’ll miss the esoteric letters, this will be a heck of a lot easier to explain to non-techie family and friends. We’re all accustomed to version numbers these days.

The one downside (for users) is that it probably will end up making some people feel like they need to upgrade when their setup is still probably fine–the limiting factor to your Internet speeds isn’t usually your Wi-Fi setup. (Still on Wi-Fi 4 here, friends!)

All of this happens in advance of Wi-Fi 6 (née 802.11ax), which is supposed to debut next year. It will be interesting to see companies adopting the branding; the Wi-Fi Alliance reportedly even wants this to show up in software when you choose Wi-Fi networks.

Overall, though, incrementing simple numbers does seem like it will make things easier. I know at least one guy who will be pleased.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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