What is the next Wi-Fi standard?

It doesn't seem too long ago that the new 802.11ac wave 2 was released, and everybody was getting to grips with data rates of over a Gigabit per second and the idea of Multiple User-MIMO, the next ground breaking technological leap, and how this was all going to revolutionise Wi-Fi.

And I'm sure it will when the compatible client devices become available.

But the manufacturers and technicians working in their labs can't wait around patting each other on the back about a job well done, instead it's time to look forward again to the next Wi-Fi standards, looking to get ratified over the next couple years.

So forget everything you had already learnt, and prepare for the information and rumours circulating about the next two standards to come.


802.11ad is a new Wi-Fi standard initially announced in 2009 that uses the 60GHz spectrum. It boasts having a theoretical maximum speed of up to 7Gbps, compared against the maximum 3.2Gbps touted for 802.11ac Wave 2.

Working Group TGad, has since completed its work with the publication of 802.11ad, providing up to 6.75 Gbps throughput using 'approximately 2 GHz of spectrum at 60 GHz over a short range'. The higher frequency usage of 802.11ad means that the signal can carry far more information than ever before, which leads to better throughput. However, the 60 GHZ will not propagate through materials as well as 2.4GHz and 5GHz, meaning that it will only work in the short range environments, potentially within the room of the access point dependent on building materials.

Currently, there isn't much on the market that utilizes this Wi-Fi standard, so we will have to wait and see if this takes off with the bigger manufacturers later this year.


802.11ax is expected to be able to subdivide signals even further than 802.11ac and wave 2, using a technology called MIMO-OFDM (Multiple Input Multiple Output-Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), further expanding on the multi-antenna capabilities of 802.11N and AC.

802.11ac and wave 2 technologies advertise potential gigabit speeds, although they are unlikely to be reachable in most situations, based on client devices and environmental factors, but 802.11ax is 'aiming' to deliver more than 4 times the capability.

802.11ax is particularly aimed at high-density Wi-Fi deployments, improving not only the throughput, but also the ability for connections to stay active even when interfered with. What other developments they have made to accompany the antenna capabilities are yet to be fully revealed, but more information will be made available over the coming months.

This isn't expected to be delivered before 2019, and there is no indication when 802.11AX capable hardware will start coming out, but often, hardware has been released before the official release or 'ratification' of a standard or certification has been confirmed.