The Wi-Fi Alliance already announced Wi-Fi 6 back in October. Today, it’s announcing the details of the Wi-Fi 6 certification process, which will launch in the third quarter of 2019. Expect many new Wi-Fi 6 devices later this year.

Some manufacturers have already released routers and other devices advertising Wi-Fi 6 support, but they’re not “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6.” That certification program ensures devices are compatible and that they have specific features. The Wi-Fi Alliance told us they expect manufacturers to have those already-existing Wi-Fi 6 devices certified when the program launches.

Wi-Fi 6 includes a variety of technologies,  but some are mandatory for certification. Devices must support WPA3 encryption for improved security to achieve certification. They must also support specific features, including OFDMA, MU-MIMO, beamforming, 1024-QAM, and target wake time (TMT). Together, these features provide a more efficient network with lower latency, improved speed with multiple devices, and improved battery life for those devices.

RELATED: Wi-Fi 6: What's Different, and Why it Matters

But you don’t need to know about all those technical terms. That’s the point of the new “Wi-Fi 6” name, which is a friendlier term for 802.11ax. Up until now, Wi-Fi standards have been named things like 802.11n, 802.11g, and 802.11ac. Can you put them in the correct order? (Hint: No, it’s not alphabetical!)

The correct order for Wi-Fi standards from oldest to newest is 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac, and 802.11ax. Don’t worry if you can’t remember, though—the Wi-Fi Alliance found that only 5% of people surveyed could put these standards in the correct order.

So, forget all that stuff—just look for “Wi-Fi 6 Certified.” You don’t even need to worry about the WPA3 certification, as Wi-Fi 6 certified devices must support WPA3.

Certification may seem like a formality, but it’s a sign those devices are actually arriving. We expect to see lots of Wi-Fi 6 devices released starting in mid-2019. Many manufacturers are already showing off various Wi-Fi 6 devices this week at CES 2019, from wireless routers and mesh network solutions to PCs.

Image Credit: Jackie Niam/, Wi-Fi Alliance

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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