There are various versions of WiFi – which one your router and devices have will determine the speed and range of your wireless internet connection. We explain what they are and how to find out which ones you have.
Most of us don’t spend too much time thinking about WiFi. We just want it to work. But it pays to know which version of WiFi is in your router, smartphone, laptop and other devices as there have been many different flavours of WiFi ever since it hit the mainstream way back in 1999.
Each version has increased in speed, interference and congestion resistance, and security. After all, security and the likelihood that wireless signal will reach into every room of your home are just as important as raw speed.
WiFi versions now have a reasonably simple numerical naming system – the higher the number, the newer and more capable the technology. But, in many places, they’re still referred to using an older, more complicated- and fussy-looking – naming system. In our breakdown of the most common WiFi versions, we’ve used both.
It’s important to note that the maximum speeds listed below are theoretical maximums: in reality, the speeds you’ll get will depend on all sorts of factors, from the thickness of your home’s walls to the number of antennas in your devices. Plus, there’s the speed of the internet line coming into your home which is separate from the speed of your wireless signal.
WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E (aka 802.11ax)
Year introduced: 2021
Max speeds: 600 to 9,608Mbps
WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are the state of the art, so only some routers (such as Ultra Hubs for Vodafone Pro Broadband customers) and devices support it. The focus in this generation is on reliability and minimising interference, especially in households and other spaces with large numbers of connected WiFi devices.