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WLANs gain boost in speed with IEEE 802.11g amendment

IEEE 802.11b, the most widely used wireless local area network (WLAN) technology, has received a long-awaited incre...

June 12, 2003  

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IEEE 802.11b, the most widely used wireless local area network (WLAN) technology, has received a long-awaited increase in speed through 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.

The added transmission speed gives wireless networks based on IEEE 802.11b (often called 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 coexist 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 widely deployed 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.

“The members of the working group put forth a great deal of effort to make this standard a reality,” he said. “

In response to the amendment’s approval, the Wi-Fi Alliance will be announcing the first round of Wi-Fi certified 802.11g products in the near future.

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