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It's hard to believe that 802.11 WiFi has only had three major revisions since it was started up 15 years ago. The IEEE must be equally surprised, as it's introducing a new 802.11-2012 standard that unites 10 technologies from various amended WiFi versions under one big tent. Among the picks are new support for 3.65 and 3.7GHz bands, to avoid clashing with 2.4GHz or 5GHz networks, as well as better support for direct linking, faster cellular hand-offs, in-car networks, roaming and mesh networking. You can pay $5 to have a peek at the 2012 WiFi spec today, although we'd brace for a significant wait before smartphones and routers ship with the new 802.11 format -- we know how long it can take for a WiFi standard to become a practical reality.

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IEEE 802.11™ Expanded to Support Faster, Higher-Quality, Simpler Wireless LAN Communications in More Environments

IEEE-SA Standards Board Approves New Revision of Wireless LAN Standard
Leveraged in Devices and Networks Around the World

CTIA WIRELESS 2012

NEW ORLEANS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--IEEE, the world's largest professional association advancing technology for humanity, today announced the publication of IEEE 802.11™-2012, which defines the technology for the world's premier wireless local area network (LAN) products.

The new IEEE 802.11-2012 revision has been expanded significantly by supporting devices and networks that are faster, more secure, while offering improved Quality of Service and, improved cellular network hand-off. IEEE 802.11 standards, often referred to as "Wi-Fi®," already underpin wireless networking applications around the world, such as wireless access to the Internet from offices, homes, airports, hotels, restaurants, trains and aircraft around the world. The standard's relevance continues to expand with the emergence of new applications, such as the smart grid, which augments the facility for electricity generation, distribution, delivery and consumption with a two-way, end-to-end network for communications and control.

"IEEE 802.11 is obviously a standard of tremendous impact for developers and users of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, service providers, the global smart-grid community, manufacturers, healthcare workers and retail service providers around the world," said Phil Solis, research director with ABI Research. "In the 15 years since the standard's original publication, we've seen wireless networking evolve from a curiosity and nice-to-have capability to a must-have feature for doing business in a wide range of industries around the world. It's a capability that today is expected to be embedded in almost any communications device, and it's a service that's expected to be available to employees and customers almost anywhere in the world."

IEEE 802.11 defines one MAC and several PHY specifications for wireless connectivity for fixed, portable and mobile stations. IEEE 802.11-2012 is the fourth revision of the standard to be released since its initial publication in 1997. In addition to incorporating various technical updates and enhancements, IEEE 802.11-2012 consolidates 10 amendments to the base standard that were approved since IEEE 802.11's last full revision, in 2007. IEEE 802.11n™, for example, defined MAC and PHY modifications to enable much higher throughputs, with a maximum of 600Mb/s; other amendments that have been incorporated into IEEE 802.11-2012 addressed direct-link setup, "fast roam," radio resource measurement, operation in the 3650-3700MHz band, vehicular environments, mesh networking, security, broadcast/multicast and unicast data delivery, interworking with external networks and network management.

"The new IEEE 802.11 release is the product of an evolutionary process that has played out over five years and drawn on the expertise and efforts of hundreds of participants worldwide. More than 300 voters from a sweeping cross-section of global industry contributed to the new standard, which has roughly doubled in size since its last published revision," said Bruce Kraemer, chair of the IEEE 802.11 working group. "Every day, about two million products that contain IEEE 802.11-based technology for wireless communications are shipped around the world. Continuous enhancement of the standard has helped drive technical innovation and global market growth. And work on the next generation of IEEE 802.11 already has commenced with a variety of project goals including extensions that will increase the data rate by a factor of 10, improve audio/video delivery, increase range and decrease power consumption."

IEEE 802.11 is available for purchase for $5 at the IEEE Standards Store. For more information about the IEEE 802.11 working group, please visit http://standards.ieee.org/develop/wg/WG802.11.html.

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802.11-2012 WiFi freshens up spec with 3.7GHz bands, mesh networking