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Wireless LANs Gain Boost in Speed With IEEE Amendment

The most widely used wireless local area network (WLAN) technology now operates much faster as a result of a new amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard ratified by the Standards Board of the Institute ...


June 1, 2003  


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The most widely used wireless local area network (WLAN) technology now operates much faster as a result of a new amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard ratified by the Standards Board of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The amendment, IEEE 802.11g, raises the data rate of IEEE 802.11b networks to 54 Mbps from 11 Mbps.

In a report released this spring, the Yankee Group noted that the LAN universe is expanding to encompass new standards and application platforms.

“The advent of next-generation wireless data technologies and the newfound Wi-Fi momentum is no coincidence,” the report states.

“Significant developments in device functionality and mobile applications have enabled WLAN technology vendors to target users beyond their traditional base.”

The Boston, Mass. research firm suggests that organizations planning to deploy WLANs over the next six months should thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons of different 802.11 standards before making any deployment decisions. Moreover, it adds, enterprises should be aware of official ratification dates and stay clear of products that claim to have standards-based products prior to those dates.

The added transmission speed gives wireless networks based on IEEE 802.11b ( Wi-Fi) the ability to serve up to four to five times more users than they now do. It also opens the possibility for using IEEE 802.11 networks in more demanding applications, such as wireless multimedia video transmission and broadcast MPEG.

The new amendment allows IEEE 802.11g units to fall back to speeds of 11 Mbps so IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11g devices can co-exist in the same network. The two standards apply to the 2.4 GHz frequency band.

IEEE 802.11g creates data rate parity at 2.4 GHz with the IEEE 802.11a standard, which has a 54 Mbps rate at 5 GHz. (IEEE 802.11a has other differences compared to IEEE 802.11b or g, such as offering more channels.)

“IEEE 802.11g gives WLAN suppliers and users added flexibility in choosing systems that best fits their needs,” said Stuart Kerry, IEEE 802.11 working group chair. “Given the millions of 802.11b-based WLANs in place worldwide, the market demand for the extension to 54 Mbps has been quite strong.”

One reason for this is that the higher speed extends the use of this WLAN technology into a growing variety of home, consumer, business and public networking applications. In addition to making IEEE 802.11b networks more efficient, the new amendment ensures users that the equipment in these networks will be interoperable.”

In terms of the effort needed to create the new amendment, Kerry noted that the IEEE 802.11 Working Group for Wireless LANs contains nearly 400 individuals with voting status who are affiliated with computer, networking and software companies, as well as with consultant organizations and academic institutions.

In late June, Wireless City was launched in Calgary as a means of showcasing wireless projects to both business and consumers. A series of hotspots are now in place throughout the city that allow users to send and receive e-mails and search the Web from a laptop, tablet or PDA.

Growing Calgary’s technology sector requires a vision for what businesses and people will be looking for in the short and long term, said Dave Bronconnier, the city’s mayor.


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