IEEE 802.11 – Wireless Networks

802.11 is a member of the IEEE 802 family, which is a series of specifications for local area network (LAN) technologies. 802.11 is superficially similar to Ethernet.

IEEE 802.11 is a set of media access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) specifications for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) computer communication in the 900 MHz and 2.4, 3.6, 5, and 60 GHz frequency bands. They are created and maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) LAN/MAN Standards Committee (IEEE 802).

The base version of the standard was released in 1997, and has had subsequent amendments. The standard and amendments provide the basis for wireless network products using the Wi-Fi brand. While each amendment is officially revoked when it is incorporated in the latest version of the standard, the corporate world tends to market to the revisions because they concisely denote capabilities of their products. As a result, in the market place, each revision tends to become its own standard.

802.11 Wireless Networks
802.11 Wireless Networks

Wireless networks offer several advantages over fixed or wired networks:

  • Mobility,
  • Ease and speed of deployment,
  • Flexibility, and
  • Cost

The wireless local area network (WLAN) protocol, IEEE 802.11, and associated technologies, such as the 802.1X protocol and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), allow secure high-speed wireless network access and mobile access to a network infrastructure. Until the recent development and wide adoption of IEEE 802.11b, also known as Wi-Fi, in order to obtain high-speed network access to your local area network (LAN) your network client needed to be physically connected to the LAN with some type of wiring.

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