WiFi 6 kills the confusion

This article was first published by dmcityview.com

Manuals are the bane of nearly every man’s existence. Doesn’t matter if you’ve purchase a “some assembly required” set of shelves, a brand new computer, or a car; reading a manual is about the dullest thing in the world. Plus manufacturers don’t make it any easier. For instance if you buy a top shelf, professional mirrorless from sony, the A7R III, finding online support for the device means you need to know the production name of the device as well; i.e. ILCE-7RM3. Reading the manual for that camera isn’t bad enough, just reading that production name out loud will put you to sleep. I wish this were a column about the end of manuals and all knowledge were ready to be consumed in pill form, alas that is not meant to be for some time. But if there is one small piece of relief to share in this arena, it is that one of the most egregious production naming fiends on the planet has decided to make the marketplace just a bit more friendly for the technology consumer neophytes.

When your internet goes down what is the first thing anyone with a spec of knowledge does? You unplug your router, wait a few seconds, plug it back in, and say a quick prayer that is all you needed to do. All too often this experience results in one of the most dreaded requirements; calling your internet service provider. We may all say the frustration is in the quality of service and poor solutions being offered, but truthfully it is our own lack of understanding on how the internet works. What is an IP address? Am I on a 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless data transfer frequency? Does my router provide 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n and 802.11ac?

These important pieces of data transfer identification are some of the driest and most bewildering technology tidbits on the planet. Only an engineer would title a data transfer protocol something so ugly as 802.11b, partially because it works well in a spreadsheet and speaks to the wireless standards but truthfully it is also a way to split the world into those who know and those who don’t. Well fear not consumer, in the near future you’ll never find yourself staring blankly at a boxed router in Staples or Best Buy wondering which flavor of 802.11 you need.

When 802.11-1997 was introduced I’m sure the engineers weren’t thinking about consumers, but two years later when the general technology marketplace started embracing wireless connections (i.e. WiFi) no one thought to dumb down the protocol jargon. 21 years after the fact, this insanity is being reduced to Wifi 6 for consumers. Even better, previous protocol names will be converted as well. So the last standard “802.11ac” will be Wifi 5 and so on. To engineers 802.11ac means connections 600 times faster than .1997, and Wifi 6 (or 802.11ax) will mean a minimum of 2400  times increase in data transfer speed from .1997. To consumers we will be blissfully unaware of the ugly naming and protocol math, but will definitely notice the awesome bandwidth of bufferless 8K video delivery and stronger connections farther away from our routers.

But of course the unnoticed change is likely to be the best. Now when you’re standing in that aisle at the big box tech store, you’ll no longer be at the whim of some employees knowledge base. Starting next year when you go to look for a shiny new router, instead of scratching your head at 802s, just look for the highest WiFi number you can find. You’ll be in and out of the store in under 10 minutes, no headaches or manual reading.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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