What are IEEE 802 wireless standards?
IEEE 802 is a collection of networking standards that cover the physical and data link layer specifications for technologies such as Ethernet and wireless. These specifications apply to local area networks (LANs) and metropolitan area networks (MANs). IEEE 802 also aids in ensuring multivendor interoperability by promoting standards for vendors to follow.
Essentially, the IEEE 802 standards help make sure internet services and technologies follow a set of recommended practices so that network devices can all work together smoothly.
IEEE 802 is divided into different parts that cover the physical and data link aspects of networking. The family of standards is developed and maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee, also called the LMSC.
The set of standards started in 1979 with a proposed standard called Local Network for Computer Interconnection, which was approved a year later. The LMSC has made more than 70 standards for IEEE 802.
Some commonly used standards include those for Ethernet, bridging and virtual bridged LANs, wireless LANs, wireless MANs, wireless personal area networks (PANs) and radio access networks, as well as media independent handover services.
Better-known specifications include 802.3 Ethernet, 802.11 Wi-Fi and 802.15 Bluetooth/Zigbee. However, some of these standards have been labeled as disbanded or hibernating, and are either superseded by newer standards or being reworked. Using an open process, the LMSC advocates for these standards globally.
Individual working groups are decided on and assigned to each area so that each segment receives an acceptable amount of focus. IEEE 802 specifications also split the data link layer into two different layers -- a logical link control layer and a media access control (MAC) layer.
LMSC provides a PDF of standards for up to six months after they have been published. All standards stay in place until they are replaced with another document or withdrawn.
Why IEEE 802 standards are important
LMSC was formed in 1980 to standardize network protocols and provide a path to make compatible devices across numerous industries.
Without these standards, equipment suppliers could manufacture network hardware that would only connect to certain computers. It would be much more difficult to connect to systems not using the same set of networking equipment. Standardizing protocols helps ensure multiple types of devices can connect to multiple network types. It also helps make sure network management isn't the challenge it could be if standards weren't in place.
IEEE 802 also coordinates with other international standards, such as the International Organization for Standardization or ISO, to help maintain international standards.
The 802 in IEEE 802 does not stand for anything of significance; 802 was the next numbered project.
Examples of IEEE 802 uses
Commercial organizations can use the IEEE 802 specifications to ensure their products maintain any newly specified standards. So, for example, the 802.11 specification that applies to Wi-Fi could be used to make sure Wi-Fi devices work together under one standard. In the same way, IEEE 802 can help maintain LAN standards.
These specifications also define what connectivity infrastructure will be used for -- individual networks or those at a larger organizational scale.
The IEEE 802 specifications apply to hardware and software products. So that manufacturers don't have any input on the standards, there is a voting protocol in place. This ensures one organization does not influence the standards too much.
The working groups are the different areas of focus within the 802 specifications. They are numbered from 802.1 onward.
|Basics of physical and logical networking concepts
|Logical link control
|Distributed queue dual bus
|Broadband LAN practices
|Fiber optic practices
|Integrated services LAN
|Interoperable LAN security
|Wireless LAN MAC and physical layer specification. 802.11a, b, g, ax, 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.
|Radio resource measurements for networks using 802.11 family specifications
|Misused generic term for 802.11 family specifications
|Communications specification for wireless PANs that IEEE approved in early 2002
|Short-range (10 meters) wireless technology used for cordless mouse, keyboard and wireless headphones at 2.4 GHz
|Short-range, high-bandwidth ultra wideband link
|Short-range wireless sensor networks
|Resilient packet ring
|Radio Regulatory Technical Advisory Group
|Supports IEEE 802 LMSC and IEEE 802 wireless working groups. Actively participates in and monitors radio regulatory matters.
|Makes standards for coexistence between different wireless standards for unlicensed devices
|Mobile broadband wireless access
|Media independent handover
|Wireless regional area network
|Emergency Services Working Group
|Vertical Applications Technical Advisory Group
|Focused on application categories that use IEEE 802 standards or multiple working groups. For these, 802.24 acts as a point of contact with other organizations focused on other IEEE 802 standards. 802.24 can also serve as a resource for understanding the IEEE 802 standards by providing white papers and other documents.
Check here for a list of disbanded and hibernating standards.