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Wireless Access Systems

  • WiFi

Short for wireless fidelity and is meant to be used generally when referring of any type of 802.11 network, whether 802.11b, 802.11a, dual-band, etc. The term is promulgated by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Any products tested and approved as "Wi-Fi Certified" (a registered trademark) by the Wi-Fi Alliance are certified as interoperable with each other, even if they are from different manufacturers. A user with a "Wi-Fi Certified" product can use any brand of access point with any other brand of client hardware that also is certified. Typically, however, any Wi-Fi product using the same radio frequency (for example, 2.4GHz for 802.11b or 11g, 5GHz for 802.11a) will work with any other, even if not "Wi-Fi Certified."

Formerly, the term "Wi-Fi" was used only in place of the 2.4GHz 802.11b standard, in the same way that "Ethernet" is used in place of IEEE 802.3. The Alliance expanded the generic use of the term in an attempt to stop confusion about wireless LAN interoperability.

802.11 refers to a family of specifications developed by the IEEE for wireless LAN technology. 802.11 specifies an over-the-air interface between a wireless client and a base station or between two wireless clients. The IEEE accepted the specification in 1997. 802.11 -- applies to wireless LANs and provides 1 or 2 Mbps transmission in the 2.4 GHz band using either frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) or direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS).

  • WiMax

Call it what you want — IEEE 802.16e, or Mobile WirelessMAN — apparently, it's now official. The draft of the specification before the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16e Task Group (a subset of the 802.16 Working Group (WG) working on Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks in general) got approval from the Standards Review Committee on the IEEE-SA Standards Board. This is according to a post made by Roger Marks, the WG chairman, on Dec. 7 on a 802.16 WG e-mail archive.

The standard was actually finished weeks ago on September 22, but had to get the final approval of the Standards Board before publication.

Marks told Wi-Fi Planet that 802.16e, as an amendment to the .16 standard, will be published as 802.16e-2005, not 802.16-2005 - sans "e" - as some have stated. That number would be reserved for a full revision of .16, something which is not forthcoming this year. "There is no such standard, and there never will be," says Marks.

Marks said in his archived e-mail to the IEEE that "this action brings to a close the work of Task Group e and its project that began with the approval of the original 802.16e PAR in December 2002, following its development by the Mobile WirelessMAN Study Group beginning in July 2002." He says the projected timeframe of approval in 18 months took about twice as long to arrive, partially because the WG grew from only 82 members originally to 310 today.

802.16e went through 12 drafts and ended with a 684-page standard that received 99 percent approval.


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