A Wi-Fi standard is, put quite simply, a type of wireless connection that allows us to access the Internet and establish two-way communication without cables. This is, broadly speaking, what all Wi-Fi standards have in common, and it is that, in the end, the basis of their operation is exactly the same.
However, when we begin to delve into all the technology behind each Wi-Fi standard we realize that, in the end, starting from that common base that has not changed over the years, yes that very important differences have emerged that place the most advanced standards on a totally different level from the older ones.
Wi-Fi standards are in the hands of what we know as IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers»For its acronym in English, a global association of engineers that makes the most important decisions to define the present, and the future, of Wi-Fi, as these are followed without discussion and unanimously by the giants of the sector.
Over time, wireless connections have improved thanks to the development and implementation of each new Wi-Fi standard, but without losing a very important password, backward compatibility. This means that the newer standards are compatible with the older standards, but not vice versa. In fact, to be able to enjoy a new standard we need new generation hardware.
Wi-Fi Standard: Most Important Types and Features
When you connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, you do so using a certain standard. Said standard It must be supported by both your router and the device you use. Thus, for example, you could not connect a smartphone based on the Wi-Fi 4 standard to a Wi-Fi 5 compatible router using the latter standard, but thanks to this backward compatibility you will be able to use the router under Wi-Fi 4.
Each Wi-Fi standard presents a series of important characteristics, among which we can highlight the maximum speed it achieves, the encryption standard it supports, the band or bands it works on, the maximum range it offers and the advanced technologies it integrates. The latter is very important, since there are different technologies that are limited to the most current standards, and that substantially improve performance when we use many devices simultaneously.
Currently, we can count a total of eight Wi-Fi standards, but only the most advanced maintain a high rate of use:
- IEEE 802.11Also known as “legacy”, it is the standard that serves as the basis for wireless network communication. The first Wi-Fi standard in 1997 allowed data to be transferred to 1 Mbps.
- IEEE 802.11a: this is identified as Wi-Fi 2. It was developed based on the IEEE 802.11 standard. Came in 1999, worked in the band 5 GHz and reached a maximum speed of 54 Mbps.
- IEEE 802.11b: We also know it as Wi-Fi 1. It was the first standard developed in the late 1990s. It is capable of transferring dice to a maximum of 11 Mbps in the band of 2.4 GHz.
- IEEE 802.11g: we go up a step and we reach the Wi-Fi 3 standard. 2.4 GHz. With this standard, the maximum transmission speed was increased to 54 Mbps. It arrived from 2003. It is identified as Wi-Fi 3.
- IEEE 802.11n: we go to the Wi-Fi 4 standard, one of the most used today. It was ratified in September 2009. It operates in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and reaches speeds of up to 600 Mbps.
- IEEE 802.11ac: It is probably the most widely used Wi-Fi standard, and is popularly known as Wi-Fi 5. It was standardized at the end of 2013. It operates in the 5 GHz band and can reach speeds of 1,300 Mbps. It is identified as Wi-Fi 5.
- IEEE 802.11ax: this is known as Wi-Fi 6, and is an important advance in every way, as we saw at the time. Reaches speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
- IEEE 802.11be: also known as Wi-Fi 7. It will be the next big leap in Wi-Fi connectivity. It is scheduled for 2024, will work in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands, and promises speeds of up to 30 Gbps.