The standards 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. 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 marketplace, each revision tends to become its own standard.
IEEE 802.11 uses various frequencies including, but not limited to, 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz, and 60 GHz frequency bands. Although IEEE 802.11 specifications list channels that might be used, the radio frequency spectrum availability allowed varies significantly by regulatory domain.
The protocols are typically used in conjunction with IEEE 802.2, and are designed to interwork seamlessly with Ethernet, and are very often used to carry Internet Protocol traffic.
802.11 is a set of IEEE standards for wireless local area networks (WLAN). The most common variant is 802.11g, which is backwards compatible with the older B variant. 802.11g devices are sometimes marked as 802.11b/g to indicate this compatibility. There is a newer version – 802.11n – that provides higher maximum speeds and better range.
The 802.11g standard’s typical speeds are rated up to 54 Mbps.
802.11-1997 was the first wireless networking standard in the family, but 802.11b was the first widely accepted one, followed by 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. Other standards in the family (c–f, h, j) are service amendments that are used to extend the current scope of the existing standard, which may also include corrections to a previous specification.
802.11a uses the 5 GHz U-NII band, which, for much of the world, offers at least 23 non-overlapping 20 MHz-wide channels rather than the 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band offering only three non-overlapping 20 MHz-wide channels, where other adjacent channels overlap—see list of WLAN channels. Better or worse performance with higher or lower frequencies (channels) may be realized, depending on the environment. 802.11n can use either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band; 802.11ac uses only the 5 GHz band.
The segment of the radio frequency spectrum used by 802.11 varies between countries. In the US, 802.11a and 802.11g devices may be operated without a license, as allowed in Part 15 of the FCC Rules and Regulations. Frequencies used by channels one through six of 802.11b and 802.11g fall within the 2.4 GHz amateur radio band. Licensed amateur radio operators may operate 802.11b/g devices under Part 97 of the FCC Rules and Regulations, allowing increased power output but not commercial content or encryption
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