The IEEE has released IEEE 802.11-2012, available online for $5. The standard is huge: 2793 pages, and includes standards for 802.11 devices operating in the 2.4 GHz, 3650-3700 MHz, 4.9 GHz, 5 GHz and 5.9 GHz bands.
The adoption of standard protocols for devices operating in the 3650-3700 MHz (3.65 GHz) may lead to greater use of this band for last mile, high-speed wireless links. Operation of fixed stations in this band requires a non-exclusive FCC license – essentially a registration. Satellite operations sharing this band are protected by professional installation of the fixed 3.65 GHz base stations. While use of this band has been limited, its inclusion in the 802.11 standard could lead to more companies offering products for 3.65 GHz and, as a result, more wireless service providers using the band. As these devices become more common, so will the potential for interference to C-band receive Earth stations in the adjacent 3.7 GHz band.
The revised standard promises faster speeds – up to 600 Mbps. These higher speeds could be useful now that IEEE 802.11-2012 includes protocols for mesh networks, allowing creation of robust wireless networks without the need for separate fiber feeds or backhaul links to each node. Low cost, unlicensed, 802.11 mesh networks could provide a low cost alternative to the use of expensive licensed spectrum in densely populated urban areas. Consumers are streaming more video content over their networks. The 802.11-2012 revision adds support for multicasting and new quality of service options to wireless links. Multicasting makes more efficient use of data bandwidth when the same content is being sent to multiple devices simultaneously.
SmallNetBuilder.com has a good article about one feature dropped from 802.11-2012 – the 40 MHz mode in 2.4 GHz. See Bye Bye 40 MHz Mode in 2.4 GHz - Part 1 for a review of the changes, including spectrum analyzer photos. Net-security.org provides an overview of the revisions in IEEE approves revision of wireless LAN standard.
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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