the term Wifi is synonymous with wireless LAN, but is a specific trademark owned by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a group dedicated to certifying products to IEEE wireless standards.
The IEEE naming convention classifies all standards that specify protocols for implementing wireless LANs under 802.11umbrella. Individual standards are assigned alphabetically, such as 802.11a, 802.11b, and so on. Thanks to the widespread acceptance of wireless LAN, new standards continue to develop rapidly, creating a confusing alphabet soup.
To help the public better understand the standards, in 2018 the Wi-Fi Alliance began translating the standard’s technical names into an easy-to-remember numerical system (Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6). Reflects how cellular technologies are named (3G, 4G, 5G).
Next, the Wi-Fi standard is divided into four sections. Common core standards, future standards still in development, standards designed for niche applications, and historical standards that may be obsolete.You can also view timelines for these standards on the IEEE website.
Core WLAN standard
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
Older home wireless routers are likely 802.1ac compliant and operate in the 5 GHz frequency band. With multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology (multiple antennas working on both transmitting and receiving devices to reduce errors and increase speed), the standard supports data rates up to 3.46Gbps. increase.
Some router vendors have incorporated technology to support the 2.4GHz frequency via 802.11n or Wi-Fi 4, supporting older client devices with 802.11b/g/n radios as well as We also offer additional bandwidth for increased data rates. New home routers and new devices now support Wi-Fi 6 and/or 6E.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E (802.11ax): High Efficiency WLAN
Known as high-efficiency WLAN, 802.11ax aims to improve performance in high-density scenarios such as sports stadiums and airports while operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum. Wi-Fi 6 promises at least a 4x throughput improvement compared to 802.11n and 802.11ac due to more efficient spectrum utilization. This standard will be published in May 2021.
Wi-Fi 6E extends the protocol to the 6 GHz frequency band, allowing up to 14 additional 80 MHz channels or 7 additional 160 MHz channels for applications such as high-definition video and virtual reality . According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, devices using 6E can provide better network performance and support more Wi-Fi users at once, even in dense and congested environments. Additional use cases include unified communications, cloud computing, telepresence, and next-generation connectivity acceleration with 5G networks.
Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be): very high throughput
The successor to Wi-Fi 6 and 6E will be 802.11be standard, labeled as Wi-Fi 7 by the Wi-Fi Alliance. This version is still in the draft stage, with final approval scheduled for his 2024 (although the product could be released sooner if the protocol draft is approved).
The protocol is focused on indoor and outdoor operations using fixed and moving speeds in the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz frequency bands, with the goal of supporting a maximum throughput of at least 30 Gbps. (can reach 46 Gbps). compatibility.
Higher throughput can support video traffic in the 4K to 8K resolution range (20 Gbps uncompressed range) and high-throughput, low-latency applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality, remote office and cloud computing.
Features discussed Utilization of 320 MHz bandwidth (doubling the maximum channel size of 160 MHz) and more efficient use of non-contiguous spectrum, multi-band/multi-channel aggregation, doubling spatial streams from 8 to 16 with MIMO enhancements ), including multi-access. Point coordination, enhanced link adaptation and retransmission protocol. Version Draft 2.0 was submitted in July 2022, with draft approval expected by November 2022, and final approval expected by March 2024.
Wi-Fi standard under development
802.11az: Next Generation Positioning (NGP)
The research group was formed in January 2015 to address the need for a station to determine its absolute and relative position with respect to another associated or unassociated station. The goal of this group is to “define changes to the media access control and physical layers that allow more accurate absolute and relative position determination for fine timing measurement (MTM) protocols running on the same PHY type. It reduces the use and power consumption of existing wireless media and is scalable to high-density deployments.” Final approval is expected by December 2022.
802.11bd – next generation vehicle-to-vehicle communication
One of the concepts relevant to the world of smart vehicles is that nearby vehicles can create ad-hoc vehicle networks to share information related to safety and traffic management. 802.11bd is defined as a modification of 802.11p to improve reliability, latency, and throughput. Final approval is expected by December 2022.
802.11bf – WLAN sensing
This standard explores the use of WLANs capable of sensing wireless signals to detect intended target characteristics such as range, speed, angle, motion, presence or proximity, or gestures in a given environment. Objects can be humans or animals, and environments can be rooms, houses, vehicles, or offices. The first draft is scheduled for his September 2022, and final approval is scheduled for the period from July 2024 to September.
802.11bh – MAC address randomization and change
The 802.11aq standard formalized MAC privacy for 802.11 stations. This includes changing MAC addresses and using randomized MAC addresses. However, this can have wide-ranging implications that affect not only 802.11 networks, but many related services as well. This working group was formed to develop amendments to mitigate these impacts while still protecting the user privacy benefits provided by MAC address randomization and modification. A first draft of these changes is planned for September 2022.
802.11bi – enhanced data privacy
The purpose of this amendment is to specify changes to the 802.11 Media Access Control (MAC) specification to create new mechanisms to address and improve user privacy. Users and governments have an interest in protecting personal information such as location, movements, contacts, and activities. Even 80.211 compliance does not adequately protect users from tracking and profiling attacks. A first draft is expected by March 2023.
A niche Wi-Fi standard
802.11ah: Wi-Fi Harrow
802.11ah defines license-exempt network operation in the sub-1 GHz frequency band (usually the 900 MHz band), excluding television white space bands. In the US, this includes 908-928 MHz, but other countries have different frequencies. The purpose of 802.11ah is to create a Wi-Fi network with extended range beyond common networks in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz space (remember, lower frequencies have more range). The data rate is up to 347Mbps.
Additionally, the standard aims to reduce energy consumption, helping Internet of Things devices communicate over long distances without using a lot of energy. However, it may also compete with Bluetooth technology in the home due to its low energy needs. The protocol was approved in September 2016 and published in May 2017.
802.11ad: high throughput, short reach
802.11ad, approved in December 2012, is very fast. It can deliver data rates up to 6.7 Gbps at 60 GHz frequency, but at the cost of range. This can only be achieved if the client device is within 3.3 meters of him (just 11 feet from the access point).
802.11ay: Next Generation 60GHz
The standard supports a maximum throughput of at least 20 Gbps within the 60 GHz frequency (802.11ad currently achieves up to 7 Gbps), improving range and reliability. This standard will be published in July 2021.
Historic Wi-Fi standard
802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)
802.11n, the first standard to specify MIMO, was ratified in October 2009 and allows for use on two frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, with speeds up to 600Mbps. If you hear that a wireless LAN vendor uses the term “dual band”, these he means that he can deliver data on two frequencies.
802.11g, approved in June 2003, is the successor to 802.11b and can achieve rates of up to 54Mbps in the 2.4GHz band, matching the speeds of 802.11a but in a lower frequency range..
It was the first “letter” following the ratification of the 802.11 standard in June 1997, which offered operation on the 5GHz frequency with data rates up to 54Mbps. Counterintuitively, 802.11a came after his 802.11b and caused confusion in the market. This is because people expected standards with a trailing ‘b’ to be backward compatible with standards with a trailing ‘a’. No.
The first home routers released in September 1999 were most likely 802.11b, which operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency and offer data rates up to 11 Mbps.
The first standard to offer data rates up to 2 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz frequency. It offered a whopping 66 feet of range indoors (330 feet outdoors), so if you own one of these routers, he probably only used it in one room.
Keith Shaw is a freelance digital journalist who has been writing about the world of IT for over 20 years.
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