The 802.11 Wireless Protocols

The 802.11 refers to the specifications of a group of wireless local area network that was developed by a team of engineers in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. This wireless network encompasses four different technologies in its operation that include frequency hopping spread spectrum, the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, the Direct Sequency Spectrum and the Infrared technology.The 802.11 Wireless Network has a large spread spectrum that operates at a frequency of 2.

4 Giga hertz standard in all the countries. Any network has layers that have been divided for different operations which are referred to as protocols. This wireless network has different protocols that are used for different reasons within the 802.

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11 standards set. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers came up with standards for these protocols to be used worldwide for several reasons. This wireless network contains five layers that are used for different application in the network. (Dyson, 2001)The first reason for the standardization of the wireless protocol is internetworking of different network protocol or layers on different platforms. We have different networks being used worldwide that require to be connected together to work as one. Due to the increased demand of networking and the growth of the use of internet especially on our hand held devices all over the world there was need for internetworking. All the network protocols had to be standardized so that different networks could communicate with each other.

The institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers came up with standards for internetworking so that all networks could be the same enabling them to communicate with each other without failure. Network layers were also standardized so that all networks would also have the same layer undertaking the same function.All the wireless devices also operate on the same network such that the devices can move from one operational network and work the same way in another wireless network without any problems.

The standardization has seen enormous growth in the use of the internet and wide spread use of handheld devices that have gone wireless. Different network may be able to exchange messages in common protocol layer like the internet protocol layer in the internet regardless of their different layers used in the various networks. Regardless of internetworking of different networks, the different applications in all the remote networks need to be interoperable so that they can be communicated within the networks.Another need for standardizing the wireless protocol is the interoperability between the different network platforms that the applications are being run on. Some users of the network who may be operating or running their applications on very different operating systems like the Microsoft Windows or Linux need to be able to communicate within the different networks. The underlying platforms for the different networks may also vary and hence all need to communicate with each other.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers thus saw the need to standardize this wireless protocol saw that people can communicate irrespective of the varying underlying factors. Users on different platforms or using different operating systems do not have to worry because the protocols in use standardize the different networks and hence enhancing easy communication. (Owens and Karygiannis, 2002)These different platforms will have appropriate application programs that will allow the different networks to interface and be able to communicate with each other. Application program interface is responsible for translating the different platforms that are being used by the different users so that different networks communicate with each other. The different networks do not recognize whether the platforms differ because the application program interfaces the platform and the network in use for them to be interoperable.Standardization of these protocols has assisted the different users to communicate and the manufacturers to ensure that the different platforms meet some specific standard for them to be operational on different networks. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers reviews these operational standards so that with the change in the upcoming technologies they also standardize them in the market for them to be operational.

Development of the handheld device platforms also need to be standardized so that users of the device can roam freely to diverse networks without incurring some problems to connect to the network.Security is another reason that leads to the standardization of the wireless protocol. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers standard 802.11 came up with a security protocol known as the Wired Equivalent Privacy that protects authorized users of the wireless networks from eavesdropping or having access to unauthorized data.

Without the standardization of this security network users could eavesdrop within the network and have access to all information that is private and confidential to the users. This protocol has helped to standardize the networks and preventing people from coming up with networks that poses a risk to its users. With the growth of wireless network especially on the mobile devices, security is of great concern because it’s easy to hack onto the wireless network than on the cabled network.

Proper standardization needs to be done and measures need to be put in place for its implementation. Its standardization has greatly reduced the risks involved or eavesdropping or hacking into the wireless network easily without being noticed. (Rappaport, 2002)Interlocking is another need for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers to standardize the wireless protocol. Various networks need to communicate and work together as one so that the users can work together through the network that appears to be one. Though the platforms or network may differ, the institute has ensured that users can work together using the network that has been interfaced as one network. The internet is a good example where people are able to communicate and work together as one worldwide even though they are on different wireless networks and platforms. Their applications may also differ depending on what they are doing but through the standardization of the protocols they are interfaced so that they are sent and are meaningful to the receiver.

Teleconferencing is one good example where people can hold meetings online capturing live video and data from different locations using different networks in operation. This has assisted people to work together as one even though they are on different places but all are on a standardized wireless protocol that supports it. (Stanwood and Eklund, 2000)To improve on the quality of the services offered, we need to standardize the wireless protocol so that the wireless networks are able to offer the best services. Time critical services are of essence and thus there was need by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers to come up with standardized protocol that would ensure that the networks offer these critical services. Most of the people who use the wireless networks are looking down for a faster and efficient service to be offered by the networks.With these demands it was critical for the wireless protocol to be standardized so that all this networks could meet the high speed transfer of data, voices and video over them. Without standardizing these services, the networks being established could not meet this demand of high speed devices but could come up with inefficient networks.

The standardization has seen the offer of a wide variety of services by the wireless protocol especially in the mobile services where time is critical. Mobile service providers have to provide real time services that are reliable and of high quality to their subscribers through the wireless networks. Standard measures on the wireless protocol have made it possible for subscribers to roam easily with their phones in different networks on different platforms easily.

Thus the quality of services has been greatly improved by the standardization of this wireless protocol.The development of the 802.11 Wireless Protocol is rather a design process of the services that the protocol will offer to the network. We determine the network topology in use first by the network in which in our case is a wireless network. Protocols are designed using a formal approach by first getting the textual description of that service that the protocol wants to provide to the underlying network.

This entire process is carried out in several steps within a given cycle of the protocol development. The designer or designers of the protocol refine the protocol in each and every step by adding more details and removing any existing errors. When the protocol is error free or bug free and has meet all the system requirements then the designer can terminate the design process of the protocol.  The system specifications are verified through functional simulation of the protocol that has been developed in the infrastructure that has been set for the wireless network. We then come to the functional level where we implement protocol on the network to the system specifications are consistent and its interaction with different units of the network is correct. (Owens and Karygiannis, 2002)Mapping is done so that each functional block is associated with the architectural resources in the wireless infrastructure. The performance of that protocol is measured with the resources of the wireless infrastructure to determine the time delay.

Functions are thus programmed into the hardware so as each function is linked with the library elements. The paths of the wireless network are automatically updated and the protocol is said to be operational in the wireless network.The entire world is now tending to the wireless networks especially with the advent of the handheld devices that are increasing rapidly. The new technologies that are growing are all using the wireless technology than the cabled networks. Thus the future of the wireless protocol is demanding and there are new protocols emerging to replace the 802.11 Wireless Protocol.

One of this futures Protocol is the WirelessHART. The WirelessHART provides a wireless protocol that offers a full variety of process measurement and control applications.This protocol enables users to quickly gain the benefits of wireless technology and easily maintain the compatibility of existing devices and systems.

It is reliable because it can coexist with other wireless networks that are available. WirelessHART is also secure and provide privacy through encryption, verification, key management and authentication of all the users. The protocol is also responsible for network management through configuration of the network, scheduled communication of devices and message routing. Interference is also eliminated by WirelessHART through channel hoping and can hop across sixteen channels overcoming these effects.

(Marks, 2001)Another emerging wireless protocol is the Bluetooth protocol that uses short wave signal to communicate over a short distance. Bluetooth protocol allows for al kind of devices to also communicate with each other over a short distance at a fast rate. It does not require a line of sight connection between devices unlike the infrared hence it’s omnidirectional and travels through obstructions that are non metallic. They are embedded in many tools or equipments to allow for short range communication and control of information.The Wired Fidelity known as Wi-Fi is also another wireless protocol that was upgraded from the 802.11 Wireless Protocol. It requires access points for transmission of signals to the clients who use Wi-Fi cards or adapters to be able to connect to this access points.

It can also travel through solid obstacles over a long distance of up to three hundred feet, unlike the Bluetooth, depending on the equipments and its configuration. They are widely used because of their high speed of internet access with the inbuilt security protocol called Wireless Encryption Protocol. It’s more secure than the 802.

11 Wireless Protocol and thus no authorized users can access unauthorized data.In conclusion, the 802.11 Wireless Protocol has been the building block for the other Wireless Protocol hence there is need to standardize all other upcoming Wireless Protocols. With the standardization of new protocols will improve the wireless communication and enhance its growth worldwide.

With the growing increase of wireless devices the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers should standardize the protocols and support these new protocols by ensuring measures are in place to implement them. (Dyson, 2001) ReferenceDyson, E. (2001): Wireless Wonders: New York Times PressMarks, B.

(2001): IEEE Standardization for the Wireless Protocol: IEEE Microwave MagazinePublicationOwens, L. & Karygiannis, T. (2002): Wireless Network Security: 802.11, Bluetooth andHandheld Devices: NIST Special PublicationRappaport, T. (2002): Wireless Communications: Pearson Education PressStanwood, L.

& Eklund, C. (2000): IEEE Standard 802.16: A Technical Overview of theWirelessMAN: IEEE Communications Magazine PublicationWireless/Networking retrieved from,, accessed on February 17, 2008LAN: Wireless LAN by IEEE 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, retrieved from,, accessed on February 17th 2008

Author: Bethany Franklin


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