In an ideal world, all technologies should be compatible with each other, but the reality is somewhat more bitter. It will have happened to you more than once, for example, when we talk about cables or mobile chargers. It turns out that your phone charger is not compatible with that of your friend or family member and you need another cable or charger. And that before was much worse.
So when a new technology emerges, it is easy to be afraid that your current devices will become obsolete or useless. The good news is that this is not the case in such a drastic way. In recent years, most technological innovations try to be compatible with the previous ones. This is what happens with WiFi connectivity.
Currently, most devices connect via WiFi without cables using the WiFi 5 standard. Its technical name is somewhat more elaborate, IEEE 802.11ac. But sooner rather than later, we will have WiFi 6 technology, faster, more efficient and safer, among other things. The million-dollar question is: how do I know if my devices are compatible?
Devices Prior to WiFi 6
Let’s start with the main thing. If I purchase a product that uses the latest version of the WiFi standard, what happens to my current devices? The good news is that you won’t have to get rid of them. WiFi 6 technology supports devices with older versions of the standard, that is, with WiFi 5 or WiFi 4. However, don’t expect the same speed or the benefits of the newer protocol.
For example, if you buy a Smart WiFi 6 Amplifier –which will be available in mid-November of this year–, you can connect any WiFi device with it, even if they are compatible with the previous standard. Of course, to obtain all its advantages it will be better to connect devices compatible with WiFi 6. But, at least, your current devices will remain valid.
Continuing with the Smart WiFi 6 Amplifier, it acts as a signal amplifier but also as an access point, which means that it can help you make your devices previous to the newer standard compatible and benefit from its features.
Recognize WiFi 6 Compatible Devices
The answer seems obvious. If it says on the product sheet that it is compatible with WiFi 6, it will be. Maybe yes, in practically all cases, but sometimes it is convenient to go further and look at the technical data sheet beyond advertising.
If you have physical access to the product or its product box, the easiest way to see if that product is compatible is to view the WiFi 6 Certified label. If you can’t find it on the box or on the product sticker, you can also search by the name of its standard, IEEE 802.11ax.
Thus, the technical data sheet should contain either the official name or the name of the standard. Sometimes it will just say something like “Wi-Fi 802.11ax” or, more simply, “Wi-Fi b, g, n, ac, ax”. Each letter refers to a WiFi standard. The one that interests us is ax, equivalent to WiFi 6.
Note that it is easy to confuse IEEE 802.11ax (WiFi 6) with its older version, IEEE 802.11ac (WiFi 5). Hence, its manager, the international organization WiFi Alliance, opted for clearer names.