WiFi Standards

WiFi is an important part of nearly everyone’s lives today. You’ve probably seen terms like Wireless N or Wireless G in reference to routers and adapters, but do you know what they stand for? Today I’m going to offer up a brief (and I hope simple) explanation of WiFi standards.


WiFi has been around since 1997, starting with WiFi a. The three most recent versions of WiFi were known as WiFi g, WiFi n, and WiFi ac. Seem kind of confusing? The WiFi Alliance thought so, too. So they renamed WiFi n and ac WiFi 4 and WiFi 5 to easily indentify which version is the newest. The upcoming generation of WiFi will be known as WiFi 6.

What separates the standards? Speed (how fast data is transferred) and Frequency (the channel on which the signal is transmitted).

WiFi g  transmits at a maximum speed of 54 Mbps (megabits per second) and uses the 2.4 GHz frequency. The range of the signal to a wireless device is about 125 feet.

WiFi 4 (formerly known as n) transmits at a maximum 300 Mbps and uses both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The average distance range is around 230 feet.

WiFi 5 (formerly known as ac) has a  speed of 3.5 Gbps (Gigabit per second) and uses the 5 Ghz frequency. The distance reach is around 115 feet.  WiFi 5 is backward compatible and will work with WiFi 4 and g devices.

What will WiFi 6 be like? Expect speeds of 9.6 Gbps and a more stable network when multiple devices are connected. WiFi 6 will be compatible with your current WiFi devices, though you will need a WiFi 6 compatible router to use the new standard.

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