What’s up with the numbers you now see after Wi-Fi in trade articles and on devices or their corresponding components? Like a lot of technology-meets-language ideas, it’s complicated but meant to eventually provide a straightforward and easily recognizable convention. It also happens to be the debut of the new industry standard: Wi-Fi 6.

In short, Wi-Fi rating numbers will now correspond to devices, technology, and anticipated performance – a way for users to identify the Wi-Fi experience they will get. The ratings will start with 4 since any devices before that are considered too old and primitive to be assigned a rating. (The few still out there will soon be impossible to support on the modern platforms.)

wifi 6 fast data

Right now we are enjoying the benefits of Wi-Fi 5 as the pinnacle of router technology, but that’s about to change. New, more sophisticated routers with an output of 10Gbps (you read that right – ten gigabits per second) will be certified and available by the end of 2019.

Just as the Wi-Fi 6 implies, a series of improvements will boost performance while better accommodating the needs of a diverse group of devices, from tablets, phones, notebooks, thermostats, and video cameras. To get the most out of the changes will require Wi-Fi 6 routers and devices.

wifi 6 fast data

Wi-Fi 6 will use something called Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output or MU-MIMO, doubling the potential bandwidth from four to eight streams. It will allow the simultaneous streaming of 4K videos and gaming, as well as the conveyance of services from smart home products like thermostats, locks, and remote sensors for lighting.

And Wi-Fi 7, which is already in the works, could make the current specs look antiquated with even more bandwidth and data-packed downloads. Expect it to blaze another trail starting sometime around 2023.