As Wi-Fi is used by for so many different purposes and Wi-Fi capabilities are incorporated into a huge number of devices made by different manufacturers, it is of great importance that it has internationally agreed standards and specifications.
By having standards that define the exact operation of the technology, it is possible to ensure that equipment made by different manufacturers will communicate satisfactorily.
It is important for any system that can be manufactured by different manufacturers, that there are common standards that can be used as it enables reliable interoperation, and this enables the technology to be more widely accepted and used.
Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.11 is a prime example of how an accessible standard has enabled multiple manufacturers to make equipment for it, and together ensure that the whole Wi-Fi technology is considerably more widely used.
IEEE Wi-Fi standards authority
The Wi-Fi standards are written and maintained by the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers which has its corporate office in New York City and its operations centre in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The IEEE develops and maintains a large number of standards associated with the electrical and electronics industries - not only do these include the Wi-Fi 802.11 series of standards, but also many others including those for Ethernet, IEEE 802.3.
In total, the IEEE has over 1100 active standards, and around 600 more under development. One of the more notable are the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN group of standards, of which IEEE 802.11 is one of the more well known.
IEEE 802.11 Standards
All the Wi-Fi standards come under the IEEE 802 umbrella for local area and metropolitan area networking, LAN / MAN. The Wi-Fi standards come under the IEEE 802.11 series.
When the first Wi-Fi standard was released in 1997, no suffix letter was added. However as further variants were released, a suffix letter was added to denote the actual variation. This letter was lower case.
The various standards under the IEEE 802.11 umbrella cover everything from the bearers to elements of the system required for interworking, e.g. security, hotspots, quality of service, roaming and the like.
The main IEEE 802.11 standards are listed below:
Although 802.11a was used, it was as widely used as the 802.11b version. Although the 5 GHz band was much wider and accommodated many more channels, the technology was more expensive at the time and this reduced its use considerably.
It was also backward compatible allowing communication with DSSS but at the lower rate of 802.11b. Backwards compatibility was a requirement in view of the number of older access points and computers that might only have the older standard available., a requirement that is always of importance.
In view of the very high frequencies used, ranges are very limited - often jsut a few metres and it is severely attenuated by objects like walls, etc that would allow signals from lower frequencies through.
In addition to the standards seen above, the IEEE and its working groups are working towards developing new Wi-Fi standards. These will ensure that the technology moves forwards in line with the requirements of the industry and IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi is able to meet the needs of the future.
Although the network bearer standards like IEEE 802.11g, 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, etc.are possibly the most widely known, they are all linked by the common basic technology behind 802.11. As can be seen by the list above, there are many 802.11 standards that address topic common to all Wi-Fi systems. Security, quality of service, authentication and the like are all important and are required to build a strong environment for the development and use of Wi-Fi technology.
Wireless & Wired Connectivity Topics:
Mobile Communications basics2G GSM3G UMTS4G LTE5GWiFiIEEE 802.15.4DECT cordless phonesNFC- Near Field CommunicationNetworking fundamentalsWhat is the CloudEthernetSerial dataUSBSigFoxLoRaVoIPSDNNFVSD-WAN
Return to Wireless & Wired Connectivity