New Wireless Standards Set

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In a move that could have broad implications for projector and other AV product development, the Standards Board of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has raised the wireless LAN speed limit. IEEE 802.11b, the most widely used wireless local area network (WLAN) technology, has gotten a long-awaited increase in speed through a new amendment to the IEEE 802.11. The amendment, IEEE 802.11g, raises the data rate of IEEE 802.11b networks to 54 Mbps (megabits per second) 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 J. 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. "They are to be congratulated for their achievement."

"The Wi-Fi Alliance applauds the IEEE for passing the IEEE 802.11g amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard," said Frank Hanzlik, Managing Director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "This very exciting achievement continues the evolution of wireless LAN technology.

"In response to the amendment's approval, the Wi-Fi Alliance will be announcing the first round of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED(TM) 802.11g products in the near future. With over 700 Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products already available around the world, we expect that the approval of this amendment will increase product certifications and industry growth."

Geoff Thompson, Vice Chair of the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee and a member of the IEEE Standards Board, says: "The current round of IEEE 802 standards passed by the Standards Board, which includes IEEE 802.11g and IEEE 802.3af, "Data Terminal Equipment Power Via Media Dependent Interface," will help put networking equipment everywhere.

These approvals are part of a long-standing effort within the IEEE-SA to create advanced standards that support cutting-edge applications so the industry continues to give end users the capabilities they demand."

IEEE 802.11 standards form a family of specifications that define how WLAN equipment should be produced so equipment from different manufacturers can work together. IEEE 802.11g, "Higher Speed Physical Layer (PHY) Extension to IEEE 802.11b," was developed by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group, which is sponsored by the IEEE 802 (r) LAN/MAN Standards Committee of the IEEE Computer Society.

For further information, visit: http://www.ieee802.org.

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