The ABC’s of 802.11

Props to this Xirrus blog for this great chart.

An overview on standards under the IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) umbrella (as of Mar 09)

#Excerpted from



IEEE 802.11

The WLAN standard was original 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps, 2.4 GHz RF and infrared [IR] standard (1997)

IEEE 802.11a

A PHY to operate in the newly allocated UNII band.

IEEE 802.11b

A higher rate PHY in the 2.4GHz band

IEEE 802.11c

Provide the required 802.11 specific information to the ISO/IEC 10038 (IEEE 802.1D) standard

IEEE 802.11d

The current 802.11 standard defines operation in only a few regulatory domains (countries). This supplement will add the requirements and definitions necessary to allow 802.11 WLAN equipment to operate in markets not served by the current standard

IEEE 802.11e

Enhance the current 802.11 MAC to expand support for LAN applications with Quality of Service requirements. Provide improvements in security, and in the capabilities and efficiency of the protocol.

IEEE 802.11F

Specify the necessary information that needs to be exchanged between Access Points to support the P802.11 DS functions.

IEEE 802.11g

Develop a new PHY extension to enhance the performance and the possible applications of the 802.11b compatible networks by increasing the data rate achievable by such devices.

IEEE 802.11h

Enhance the current 802.11 MAC and 802.11a PHY with network management and control extensions for spectrum and transmit power management in 5GHz license exempt bands, enabling regulatory acceptance of 802.11 5GHz products. Provide improvements in channel energy measurement and reporting, channel coverage in many regulatory domains, and provide Dynamic Channel Selection and Transmit Power Control mechanisms

IEEE 802.11i

Enhance the current 802.11 MAC to provide improvements in security

IEEE 802.11j

Obtain Japanese regulatory approval by enhancing the current 802.11 MAC and 802.11a PHY to additionally operate in newly available Japanese 4.9 GHz and 5 GHz bands

IEEE 802.11k

The original standard has a basic set of radio resource measurements for internal use only. These measurements and others are required to provide services; such as roaming, coexistence, and others; to external entities. It is necessary to provide these measurements and other information in order to manage these services from an external source.

IEEE 802.11l

Not to be used by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group for inclusion into the published standard

IEEE 802.11m

Maintenance of technical and editorial corrections to the 802.11-2007 Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) specifications standard.

IEEE 802.11n

Improve the 802.11 wireless local area network (LAN) user experience by providing significantly higher throughput for current applications and to enable new applications and market segments.

IEEE 802.11o

Not to be used by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group for inclusion into the published standard

IEEE 802.11p

Amend the existing IEEE 802.11 standard to make it suitable for interoperable communications to and between vehicles.

IEEE 802.11q

Not to be used by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group for inclusion into the published standard

IEEE 802.11r

Improve BSS transitions within 802.11 ESS’s and to support real time constraints imposed by applications such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

IEEE 802.11s

Provide a protocol for auto-configuring paths between APs over self-configuring multi-hop topologies in a WDS to support both broadcast/multicast and unicast traffic in an ESS Mesh using the four-address frame format or an extension.

IEEE 802.11T

Enable testing, comparison, and deployment planning of 802.11 WLAN devices based on a common and accepted set of performance metrics, measurement methodologies and test conditions.

IEEE 802.11u

Amendments to the IEEE 802.11 PHY/MAC layers which enable InterWorking with other networks. This includes both enhanced protocol exchanges across the air interface and provision of primitives to support required interactions with higher layers for InterWorking.

IEEE 802.11v

Amendments to the IEEE 802.11 PHY/MAC layers that enables management of attached stations in a centralized or in a distributed fashion (e.g. monitoring, configuring, and updating) through a layer 2 mechanism. While the 802.11k Task Group is defining messages to retrieve information from the station, the ability to configure the station is not in its scope. The proposed Task Group will also create an Access Port Management Information Base (AP MIB).

IEEE 802.11w

Improve the security of some or all IEEE 802.11 management frames by defining enhancements such as data integrity, data origin authenticity, replay protection and data confidentiality.

IEEE 802.11x

Not to be used by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group for inclusion into the published standard

IEEE 802.11y

Standardized the mechanisms required to allow shared 802.11 operation with other users in the 3650-3700 MHz band in the USA. Likely required mechanisms include: Specification of new regulatory classes (extending 802.11j), Sensing of other transmitters (extending 802.11a), Transmit Power Control (extending 802.11h) and Dynamic Frequency Selection (extending 802.11h).

IEEE 802.11z

Defines a new DLS mechanism which: a) Does not require access point upgrades (i.e. supports DLS operation with the non-DLS capable access points), b) Which supports power save mode (when associated with either DLS or non-DLS capable access points), and c) Continues to allow operation of DLS in the presence of existing DLS capable access points

IEEE 802.11aa

Specifies a standard for robust audio video stream transport over 802.11 for consumer/enterprise applications.