The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) Standards Association has announced the publication of the fourth revision to the 15 year-old 802.11 Wireless LAN Standard, upon which protocols like Wireless-N and 802.11ac are based. More commonly known as Wi-Fi, the latest revision brings together the base standard and the various technical updates and enhancements published in the last five years into a single document. Additions include much higher throughputs up to a maximum of 600Mbps, support for faster and more secure devices and networks, mesh networking and improved cellular network hand-off.
Announced at the recent International CTIA Wireless 2012 conference in New Orleans – which drew some 40,000 service providers, manufacturers, developers, retailers, enterprise end-users and the media together in one place – the revision updates the base standard to include all ten amendments that have been published since 2007, the last time it was revised.
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IEEE 802.11-2012 or the Standard for Information technology - Telecommunications and information exchange between systems Local and metropolitan area networks - Specific requirements Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications to use its formal moniker, defines one Medium Access Control (MAC) and a number of Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications for fixed, portable and mobile wireless connectivity within a local area, while also offering regulators a means of standardizing access to one or more frequency bands for local area communication.
In addition to the increase in throughput, IEEE 802.11-2012 also includes support for mesh networking, which offers attractive reliability and redundancy benefits. Rather than a network of cabled communications devices, a mesh network is an organized collection of radio nodes often comprising gateways, routers and clients which can continue to function even when a node fails.
Direct-link setup between wireless stations, so-called fast roam that reduces hand-off delay in Wireless LANs during transitions between access points for greater mobile security, and radio resource measurement have also been included, together with operation in the 3650-3700MHz frequency band, vehicular environments, security, broadcast/multicast and unicast data delivery, and interworking with external networks and network management.
The IEEE reports that work on the next revision has already started, which will hopefully see a ten-fold increase in data transfer rates, improved audio and video delivery, an increase in effective range and lower power consumption.