Wireless AC is, unfortunately, not what it sounds like


I saw a laptop advertised as supporting "Wireless AC".

I thought to myself, "Sweet, no more power cables!"

Unfortunately, it was not referring to wireless alternating current. It was referring to the 802.11ac wireless networking standard.

Because of course the standard that comes after 802.11n should be called 802.11ac.

The first few 802.11 wireless networking standard revisions have been named 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac.

A, B, G, N, AC.

Apparently alphabetical order is hard.

Comments (27)
  1. French Guy says:

    It's called bijective numeration or shortlex order (shortest string first, then lexicographical order) and it's how Excel names its columns when using letters.

  2. AMX says:

    Uh, Raymond?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11#Standards_and_amendments
    They pretty much ran out of single letters...

    1. Dave says:

      That list omits a few, which are:

      IEEE 802.11l: WiFi emoticon profile (2008)
      IEEE 802.11m: eBidet control via wireless (2009)
      IEEE 802.11o: Standardisation of plastic case colours for WiFi dongles (2009)
      IEEE 802.11q: Naming conventions for speed grades for use during Slashdot flame wars (2009)
      IEEE 802.11x: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (redacted, NSA, 2010)
      IEEE 802.11ab: WiFi over ethernet protocol (2012)

      1. DWalker07 says:

        eBidet control? You can control your bidet using wireless?

        I don't generally take a wireless-sending device into the bathroom. Should I control the bidet while someone ELSE is in the bathroom? So many questions....

  3. The "skipped" letters in between are apparently minor amendments to the main 802.11 standards. Finding a good solution for the next entry once the Latin alphabet cannot offer any more letters is not all that simple an undertaking.

    I do find it slightly questionable to make the list reminiscent of the word "cognac", though.

  4. Thiago says:

    I thought it was wireless Air Conditioner. Would have been nice too..

  5. ErikF says:

    Numerical order is hard too, though: Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, Me, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 :-P

    Honestly, as long as it's not offensive or hard to remember, I'm OK with stuff like this. Marketing is an important part of naming as well!

    1. Darran Rowe says:

      The picky part of me wins here, you mixed your windows builds. The first part of the list is based upon the DOX based Windows builds, where the second is based upon Windows NT.
      The lists should be
      Windows 1.0, 2.0, 2.1x, 3.0, 3.1x, 95, 98, ME. (Ignoring separating out some things like 3.1 vs 3.11 and the OEM service releases.)
      Windows NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.51, 4.0, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8, 8.1, 10
      Of course, numerical ordering is still hard, but at least your lists are correct enough. :3

      1. Darran Rowe says:

        It appears that my own numerical ordering is hard, I have 8 twice in the NT list.

      2. Yngve Moe says:

        DOX based Windows? Doesn't sound good. Did those builds publish your personal information?

    2. Antonio Rodríguez says:

      Microsoft has the "excuse" that the names were given by the marketing department (even if "Me" and "Vista" are terrible names for OSes, maybe heralding their respective market disasters). But what can IEEE allege, being a body of engineers?

    3. Yuri Khan says:

      Offensive numerical order? You mean, like, 4, 6, 13, 132, 420, 666, 1488, 1989, 0x09'F9'11'02'9D'74'E3'5B'D8'41'56'C5'63'56'88'C0?

      1. Lars Viklund says:

        ♪ oh nine, eff nine ♪

  6. Actually, it's abbreviations for the names of the first 5 Greek letters: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Nelta and Accilon.

    1. Tanveer Badar says:

      What the hell are Nelta and Accilon?

      1. Nick says:

        The punchline

        1. Yukkuri says:

          Delta and Epsilon I would assume.

          1. Erkin Alp Güney says:

            Nel and Accil are former variations of delt and epsille.

  7. Yuhong Bao says:

    The fun thing is that that is not what the 802.11 spec formally uses. They uses terms like DSSS, OFDM, HR-DSSS, ERP, HT, VHT, ...

  8. Cesar says:

    They are not revisions, they're like patches adding new features. Every once in a while, they release a new version of 802.11 containing all the amendments to date. And they are in alphabetical order: ac follows aa (ab was skipped to prevent confusion), which follows z, which follows y, and so on.

  9. Ivan K says:

    Can even use your wireless ac to wirelessly control your AC... http://www.daikin.com.au/skyfi

  10. Roman says:

    It only seems odd because you missed a few revisions. The full sequence of revisions so far has been a, b, d, g, h, i, j, e, k, r, y, w, n, p, z, v, u, s, ae, aa, ad, ac, af.

    Wait, that's still not alphabetical. Never mind.

  11. MV says:

    Back in the day we just had 802.11B and G. My son just sort of assumed B meant "bad" and G meant "good".

    1. smf says:

      I'm sure by now you'll realise that you only know the popular 802.11 standards.

      I like IEEE 802.11-2012, they figured out that they were out of letters but probably realised that it takes so long for standards to make it into products that people will be put off buying a four year old standard.

  12. cheong00 says:

    Let's not forget there used to be 802.16 based wireless connection (WiMAX) too, just to make consumers more confusing for what they need to buy.

    1. Nick says:

      802.16 is wireless WAN, not wireless LAN (802.11)

      1. cheong00 says:

        I know, but do you expect average customer to know the difference?

        Much like I've seen people complain why they can't connect to the internet and see they loosely plugged RJ11 into the network card.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content