Wireless LAN, PAN standards expand
More standards will be soon added to the alphabet soup of 802.11a, b, and g in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless LAN and Bluetooth 2.4 GHz personal area network (PAN) standards to meet the needs of a data-hungry world for more speeds.
The latest effort by IEEE is 802.11n, announced Sept. 24. Designed to complement and supplement existing wire-speed networks, 802.11n will operate at speeds of 100 Mbps and will focus on improving data throughput at the Medium Access Control (MAC) level rather than the physical layer as done with 802.11g.
According to IEEE 802.11 Working Group Chairman Stuart J. Kerry, WLANs having throughputs of such speeds were “thought impossible just a few years ago,” but improvements in silicon such as high-performing RF chips and integration of WLAN adapters onto a single chip have enabled greater potential speeds.
The new standard is anticipated to create a greater parity between wireless and wired networks at the enterprise level, support high-speed multimedia applications at the consumer level, and facilitate twice as many users on public space WLAN “hot spots.”
Since the working group has just been announced, an implementation timetable for 802.11n to be finalized — the critical step for it to show up in use — has not been published, so it is likely that it will be several years before 802.11n hardware becomes available.
In the ultrawideband arena, the Federal Communications Commission is asking the IEEE 802.15.3a standards group to make sure its specifications don’t propagate any RF interference beyond that allowed in FCC regulations.
Motorola and Intel requested the FCC for clarification on its’ UWB rules.
An initial consensus within the working group has lined up to support a Texas Instrument-Intel led proposal labeled Multiband-OFDM Alliance (MBOA), but it has failed to garner the 75 percent vote necessary for approval when voted upon in July; an earlier vote garnered 60 percent approval.
The 802.15.3a working group was supposed take another crack at working out their differences in Singapore in mid-September, but had not published any updates at press time.
Devices in 802.15.3a will operate in 3.1 to 10.7 GHz with data rates of 110 Mbps to 10 meters range with speeds of up to 480 Mbps at shorter distances.
For consumer electronics companies, the July vote was good enough to start testing chips that meet both FCC requirements and the MBOA draft standard; Samsung announced successful tests in mid-September.
One level up, IEEE approved the 802.15.3 standard in June 2003, dubbed “WiMedia” by the supporting industry trade group. Operating in 2.4 GHz, devices will be “plug and play” requiring no or little configuration and two devices will be able to stream at speeds up to 55 Mbps up to 300 feet apart.
Initial products are expected to be priced at around $100 per device.
Devices incorporating the technology would be capable of fast, uninterrupted streaming media between consumer devices and operate in an intelligent fashion to avoid interference from other devices ranging from cordless phones and microwave ovens to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices.
WiMedia also will support the 802.15.3a standard once it is finalized.