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802.11

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The IEEE 802 Standard comprises a family of networking standards that cover the physical layer specifications of technologies from Ethernet to wireless. IEEE 802 is subdivided into 22 parts that cover the physical and data-link aspects of networking. The better known specifications (bold in table below) include 802.3 Ethernet, 802.11 Wi-Fi, 802.15 Bluetooth/ZigBee, and 802.16.

The following table lists highlights of the most popular sections of IEEE 802 and has links for additional information:

 

802 Overview Basics of physical and logical networking concepts.
802.1 Bridging LAN/MAN bridging and management. Covers management and the lower sub-layers of OSI Layer 2, including MAC-based bridging (Media Access Control), virtual LANs and port-based access control.
802.2 Logical Link Commonly referred to as the LLC or Logical Link Control specification. The LLC is the top sub-layer in the data-link layer, OSI Layer 2. Interfaces with the network Layer 3.
802.3 Ethernet "Grandaddy" of the 802 specifications. Provides asynchronous networking using "carrier sense, multiple access with collision detect" (CSMA/CD) over coax, twisted-pair copper, and fiber media. Current speeds range from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Click for a list of the "hot" 802.3 technologies.
802.4 Token Bus Disbanded
802.5 Token Ring The original token-passing standard for twisted-pair, shielded copper cables. Supports copper and fiber cabling from 4 Mbps to 100 Mbps. Often called "IBM Token-Ring."
802.6 Distributed queue dual bus (DQDB) "Superseded **Revision of 802.1D-1990 edition (ISO/IEC 10038). 802.1D incorporates P802.1p and P802.12e. It also incorporates and supersedes published standards 802.1j and 802.6k. Superseded by 802.1D-2004." (See IEEE status page.)
802.7 Broadband LAN Practices Withdrawn Standard. Withdrawn Date: Feb 07, 2003. No longer endorsed by the IEEE. (See IEEE status page.)
802.8 Fiber Optic Practices Withdrawn PAR. Standards project no longer endorsed by the IEEE. (See  IEEE status page.)
802.9 Integrated Services LAN Withdrawn PAR. Standards project no longer endorsed by the IEEE. (See IEEE status page.)
802.10 Interoperable LAN security Superseded **Contains: IEEE Std 802.10b-1992. (See IEEE status page.)
802.11 Wi-Fi Wireless LAN Media Access Control and Physical Layer specification. 802.11a,b,g,etc are amendments to the original 802.11 standard. Products that implement 802.11 standards must pass tests and are referred to as "Wi-Fi certified."
802.11a  
  • Specifies a PHY that operates in the 5 GHz U-NII band in the US - initially 5.15-5.35 AND 5.725-5.85 - since expanded to additional frequencies
  • Uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing
  • Enhanced data speed to 54 Mbps
  • Ratified after 802.11b
802.11b  
  • Enhancement to 802.11 that added higher data rate modes to the DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) already defined in the original 802.11 standard
  • Boosted data speed to 11 Mbps
  • 22 MHz Bandwidth yields 3 non-overlaping channels in the frequency range of 2.400 GHz to 2.4835 GHz
  • Beacons at 1 Mbps, falls back to 5.5, 2, or 1 Mbps from 11 Mbps max.
802.11d  
  • Enhancement to 802.11a and 802.11b that allows for global roaming
  • Particulars can be set at Media Access Control (MAC) layer
802.11e  
  • Enhancement to 802.11 that includes quality of service (QoS) features
  • Facilitates prioritization of data, voice, and video transmissions
802.11g  
  • Extends the maximum data rate of WLAN devices that operate in the 2.4 GHz band, in a fashion that permits interoperation with 802.11b devices
  • Uses OFDM Modulation (Orthogonal FDM)
  • Operates at up to 54 megabits per second (Mbps), with fall-back speeds that include the "b" speeds
802.11h  
  • Enhancement to 802.11a that resolves interference issues
  • Dynamic frequency selection (DFS)
  • Transmit power control (TPC)
802.11i  
  • Enhancement to 802.11 that offers additional security for WLAN applications
  • Defines more robust encryption, authentication, and key exchange, as well as options for key caching and pre-authentication
802.11j  
  • Japanese regulatory extensions to 802.11a specification
  • Frequency range 4.9 GHz to 5.0 GHz
802.11k  
  • Radio resource measurements for networks using 802.11 family specifications
802.11m  
  • Maintenance of 802.11 family specifications
  • Corrections and amendments to existing documentation
802.11n  
  • Higher-speed standards -- under development
  • Several competing and non-compatible technologies; often called "pre-n"
  • Top speeds claimed of 108, 240, and 350+ MHz
  • Competing proposals come from the groups, EWC, TGn Sync, and WWiSE and are all variations based on MIMO (multiple input, multiple output)
802.11x  
  • Mis-used "generic" term for 802.11 family specifications
802.12 Demand Priority Increases Ethernet data rate to 100 Mbps by controlling media utilization.
802.13 Not used Not used
802.14 Cable modems Withdrawn PAR. Standards project no longer endorsed by the IEEE.
802.15 Wireless Personal Area Networks Communications specification that was approved in early 2002 by the IEEE for wireless personal area networks (WPANs).
802.15.1 Bluetooth Short range (10m) wireless technology for cordless mouse, keyboard, and hands-free headset at 2.4 GHz.
802.15.3a UWB Short range, high-bandwidth "ultra wideband" link
802.15.4 ZigBee Short range wireless sensor networks
802.15.5 Mesh Network
  • Extension of network coverage without increasing the transmit power or the receiver sensitivity
  • Enhanced reliability via route redundancy
  • Easier network configuration - Better device battery life
802.16 Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks This family of standards covers Fixed and Mobile Broadband Wireless Access methods used to create Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks (WMANs.) Connects Base Stations to the Internet using OFDM in unlicensed (900 MHz, 2.4, 5.8 GHz) or licensed (700 MHz, 2.5 – 3.6 GHz) frequency bands. Products that implement 802.16 standards can undergo WiMAX certification testing.
802.17 Resilient Packet Ring IEEE working group description
802.18 Radio Regulatory TAG IEEE 802.18 standards committee
802.19 Coexistence IEEE 802.19 Coexistence Technical Advisory Group
802.20 Mobile Broadband Wireless Access IEEE 802.20 mission and project scope
802.21 Media Independent Handoff IEEE 802.21 mission and project scope
802.22 Wireless Regional Area Network IEEE 802.22 mission and project scope

Lisa Phifer and Jim Trulove contributed to this updated guide. (February 2006)

This was first published in February 2006

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