What are the current Wi-Fi standards we are using

What type of Wi-Fi network are we using to connect to the internet? Let’s find out all the types of wireless networks together.

Standard Wi-FiWhen we connect to a Wi-Fi network we do not think at all about the technology behind it: as long as it works and takes it in every corner of the house, in the end, the network is always the same! This reasoning was fine at the beginning of the Internet era when Wi-Fi was the novelty and technologies weren’t as advanced as now, where we find 6 different types of Wi-Fi standards that we can exploit at home, with strengths and weaknesses.If we always want to take advantage of the fastest network technology for home or office Wi-Fi in this guide we will show you what are the Wi-Fi standards present its new generation modems, dividing the standards that we can consider obsolete from the most modern ones.

READ ALSO -> Best WiFi routers to connect wireless home devices

Wi-Fi connection standards and technologies

The names of the Wi-Fi standards have undergone an evolution over the years: while previously the abbreviation was used 802.11 followed by a letter to identify the standard in use, the nomenclature has also been added in recent years Wi-Fi plus number, so as to facilitate the recognition of the old and new Wi-Fi protocols as much as possible when we buy a new modem.

Standard Wi-Fi obsolete

Let’s start with older Wi-Fi standards, the ones we must avoid as much as possible unless we have pre-2010 devices still working. Currently, the Wi-Fi standards deemed old and outdated to use are:

  • 802.11a -> 5 GHz network frequency, maximum speed 54 Mbps
  • 802.11b -> 2.4 GHz network frequency, maximum speed 11 Mbps
  • 802.11g -> 2.4 GHz network frequency, maximum speed 54 Mbps

These old standards marked the era of the Internet boom, with the connections of the first cell phones with Wi-Fi and computers with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. They are now too old to be used to advantage on modern devices. in fact, they are often aggregated on the 2.4 GHz networks of the modem only to maintain a minimum of compatibility with old devices (we find as an active standard 802.11 b/g/n).

These standards are also recognized on modems with the new Wi-Fi nomenclature, as shown below:

  • 802.11a -> Wi-Fi 2
  • 802.11b -> Wi-Fi 1
  • 802.11g -> Wi-Fi 3

Wi-Fi 1 is the slowest and has disappeared, as is Wi-Fi 2; in the drawers and in the attics we can still find some old devices (released before 2010) capable of connecting only to Wi-Fi 3 on the 2.4 GHz frequency.

Current Wi-Fi standards

Let’s talk now about currently used Wi-Fi standards to connect the vast majority of wireless devices such as smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs, game consoles, Amazon Echo, notebooks, and desktop PCs. These standards are:

  • 802.11n -> 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network frequency, maximum speed 600 Mbps (real 150 Mbps)
  • 802.11ac -> 5 GHz network frequency, maximum speed 1,300 Mbps

The 802.11n standard is undoubtedly the most popular among Wi-Fi networks, as it offers good network coverage and good connection speed. On the latter, there is a myth to dispel: 600 Mbps are unattainable due to interference with nearby networks, so most of the time the connection speed with this standard will be only 150 Mbps.

To take advantage of a higher connection speed we can take advantage of its standard 802.11ac, increasingly popular thanks to Dual Band modems and capable of reaching 1,300 Mbps or 1.3 Gbps (real). Compared to the first standard, coverage is lower due to a limit of the electromagnetic field on the 5 GHz frequency (which hardly exceeds a single room). To exploit it properly, we connect all devices close to the modem to 5 GHz and expand the coverage with two or more 5 GHz Wi-Fi repeaters; in this regard, we can take a look at TP-Link Ripetitore WiFi Dual-Band AC1200, available on Amazon for less than € 35.

These standards are also recognized on modems with the new Wi-Fi nomenclature, as shown below:

  • 802.11n -> Wi-Fi 4
  • 802.11ac -> Wi-Fi 5

To be sure to be able to connect any modern device, therefore, make sure that both standards are active on our modem, by accessing the settings of the same as seen in the guide Login to the router for easy access to settings.

READ ALSO: Better an 802.11ac or 802.11n router?

New Wi-Fi standards

The newest and most popular Wi-Fi standard is Wi-Fi 6, also identified with the old nomenclature 802.11ax (little used commercially).

New Wi-Fi

This standard operates on both frequencies seen above (2.4 and 5 GHz), thus managing to guarantee maximum coverage and maximum transmission speed in all network conditions. With Wi-Fi 6 we reach the maximum transmission speed of 10,000 Mbps (i.e. 10Gbps), support for multiple data exchange technologies is added and it will also be possible to take advantage of the 6GHz frequency, to significantly increase the transmission speed of content between PCs or for 4K or 8K UHD streaming.

This standard is not as widespread as the previous ones but it will recover quickly, given that already today TIM and Vodafone provide modems with Wi-Fi 6 and the new devices (such as smartphones) support Wi-Fi 6. If we want to anticipate the times we can also buy a modem with Wi-Fi 6 like the ASUS RT-AX92U Gaming Router AX6100 Tri-Band WiFi 6, available on Amazon for less than € 200; other similar modems and routers can be seen in the guide Best Wi-Fi 6 wireless routers (IEEE 802.11ax), what they are and how they work.

Conclusions

When we connect to a Wi-Fi network we also check which standard it uses by opening the Wi-Fi connection settings from a smartphone or PC: if we are using a recent connection or a futuristic connection such as Wi-Fi 6 we will always get the best results in terms of speed and stability of the signal everywhere in the house; if instead we are taking advantage of obsolete standards and we are unable to improve the situation, we change the device or get hold of Wi-Fi adapters like those seen in the guide Add 5GHz WiFi for PC, for faster connection.

If the problem at home or in the office is the signal coverage we can take a look at the WiFi Mesh, which we talked about in the article Mesh WiFi: how to increase wireless coverage.

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