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What's the difference between 802.1i and 802.11i?

Various articles report the sign-off of a new WLAN security specification. However, some articles talk about 802.1i, others about 802.11i.

Can you clarify and point out the difference between 802.1i and 802.11i, in case both are relevant in the WLAN...


The new standard is supposed to support TKIP and AES encryption and uses 802.1x (port based authentication).

The new standard is supposed to support TKIP and AES encryption and uses 802.1x (port based authentication). Answer: I've heard of confusing 802.1x and 802.11x, but this is the first I've heard about 802.1i!

802 refers to the series of IEEE Local and Metropolitan Area Network standards. 802.1 refers to standards that specify architecture and interworking techniques that apply to all kinds of LANs. 802.3 refers to Ethernet LAN standards. 802.11 refers to wireless LAN standards.

Each new project is assigned a letter. When a standard is published, it is carries the series designation, the project letter and the year in which it was ratified. For example:

  • 802.1x-2001 defines Port Access Control for all kinds of LANs
  • 802.11b-1999 defines wireless LANs in the 2.4 GHz band
  • 802.11g-2003 defines Higher Data Rate Wireless LANs in the 2.4 GHz band
  • 802.11i-2004 defines security enhancements for all wireless LANs
So, what the heck is 802.1i? IEEE 802.1i-1992 is a very old standard that defined the Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) for LAN Media Access Control Bridges. It has long since been replaced by other 802.1 standards. The references you see in print recently to 802.1i are simply typos. Those articles probably intended to reference 802.11i, the new standard that uses TKIP and AES and port access control.

By the way, 802.11x is just really bad shorthand for all 802.11 standards. This letter hasn't (yet) been assigned to an IEEE project, but when it is, confusion will reign.

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