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IEEE 802.11

Definition - 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.

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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