IEE 802.11 Wi-Fi Standard

Wireless Standard - IEEE 802.11 (WiFi)

Introduction

This document is designed as a very brief introduction to the IEEE 802.11 or Wi-Fi standard. The link page points to additional websites where more information is available.

Wi-Fi is often used synonymously for IEEE 802.11.  Wi-Fi is supported by the Wi-Fi alliance which certifies the interoperability of 802.11 products. The standard is promulgated and enhanced by the IEEE and has gone through multiple stages of technical innovation.  In most cases all upgrades to the standard are backwards compatible so equipment with new versions of the standard will operate with older equipment. 

Wi-Fi (aka 802.11) is a master/slave wireless network. The master is called an access point and is usually instantiated as a gateway to the internet via an Ethernet connection.   Millions of these access points are found in homes, factories and industrial sites all over the world. 

Wi-Fi operates in the 2.4 Gigahertz unlicensed band at different data rates.   A recent 802.11 upgrade allows operation in the 5 Gigahertz unlicensed band(802.11a). Date rates vary from less then 10 megabits/second to 600 megabits/second using the latest 802.11n standard upgrade.  Normally WiFi is used as a backbone device because of its relatively high performance and high power consumption obviating its use with batteries. WiHART Systems has introduced an extremely low power Wi-Fi module which reduces normal Wi-Fi power consumption by a factor of 5 or more. This allows for the utilization of Wi-Fi in a battery powered node. See wireless module web pages for detailed data sheet of the low power Wi-Fi module.


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