IEEE 802.11

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What Does IEEE 802.11 Mean?

IEEE 802.11 refers to the set of standards that define communication for wireless LANs (wireless local area networks, or WLANs). The technology behind 802.11 is branded to consumers as Wi-Fi.

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As the name implies, IEEE 802.11 is overseen by the IEEE, specifically the IEEE LAN/MAN Standards Committee (IEEE 802). The current version of the standard is IEEE 802.11-2007.

Techopedia Explains IEEE 802.11

In other words, IEEE 802.11 is the set of technical guidelines for implementing Wi-Fi. Selling products under this trademark is overseen by an industry trade association by the name of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

IEEE 802.11 has its roots from a 1985 decision by the U.S. Federal Commission for Communication that opened up the ISM band for unlicensed use. The standard was formally released in 1997. That original standard was called IEEE 802.11-1997 and is now obsolete.

It’s common to hear people refer to “802.11 standards” or the “802.11 family of standards.” However, to be more precise, there is only one standard (IEEE 802.11-2007) but many amendments. Commonly known amendments include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.