The Full Spectrum of Wireless Communications Protocols and Standards

March 1, 2018 at 8:00 AM


The IoT is the driving force behind most wireless technology today. Everything including cars, smart homes, businesses and cities will be connected by the IoT. Plus, an estimated 300 million smartphones are slated to have artificial neural network (ANN) learning capabilities that would enable functions such as navigation, speech recognition and augmented reality.


With all the wireless technology rolling out and market demand for wireless communications applications continuing to grow, the development of different wireless technologies is also exploding to meet that demand. In fact, there are so many new technologies emerging that some directly compete with one another and frequencies overlap.


Many protocols are in accordance with IEEE 802.11 standards. The IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC) develops the most widely known wired and wireless standards, which encompasses local and metropolitan area networks. The fundamental IEEE standard of 802.11.n had of a minimum of 31 amendments through 2016, with more in the process. These cover everything from Ethernet, wireless LAN, virtual LAN, wireless hot spots, bridging and more.


Other IEEE standards include:


-    IEEE 802.15.4 for Simplified Personal Wireless and Industrial Short-Range Links

-    IEEE 802.15 Wireless PAN

-    IEEE 802.16 Broadband Wireless (WiMAX)

-    IEEE 802.22 for Wireless Regional Area Network (WRAN), with base station range to 60 miles

-    IEEE 802.23 for Emergency Service Communications


802.11 wireless technology began when the FCC released the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands for unlicensed use. The ISM bands were then established in 1974 by the International telecommunication Union (ITU).


These are the frequency allocations as determined by the ITU:


Min. Freq.

Max. Freq



Licensed Users

6.765 MHz

6.795 MHz


Local Acceptance

Fixed & Mobile Service

13.553 MHz

13.567 MHz



Fixed & Mobile Service except Aeronautical

26.957 MHz

27.283 MHz



Fixed & Mobile Service except Aeronautical & CB

40.66 MHz

40.7 MHz



Fixed, Mobile & Earth Exploration/Satellite Service

433.05 MHz

434.79 MHz



Amateur & Radiolocation Service

902 MHz

928 MHz B



Fixed, Mobile & Radiolocation Service

2.4 GHz

2.5 GHz



Fixed, Mobile, Radiolocation, Amateur & Amateur Satellite Service

5.725 GHz

5.875 GHz



Fixed-Satellite, Radiolocation, Mobile, Amateur & Amateur Satellite Service

24 GHz

24.25 GHz



Amateur, Amateur Satellite, Radiolocation & Earth Exploration Satellite

61 GHz

61.5 GHz


Local Acceptance

Fixed, Inter-satellite, Mobile & Radiolocation

122 GHz

123 GHz


Local Acceptance

Earth Exploration Satellite, Inter-Satellite, Space Research

244 GHz

246 GHz


Local Acceptance

Radiolocation, Radio Astronomy, Amateur & Satellite Service


In addition to IEEE standards, other technologies have broken away from IEEE and made the move to special trade organizations and even changed their names. Plus, there is a slew of short range communications standards vying for dominance, including ANT+, Bluetooth, FirstNet and ZigBee. No matter what your wireless communication application is, rest assured that there are plenty of standards and protocols to refer to when designing your wireless network.


Readers’ Choice -Top Blog Posts of 2017

December 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM


As we wrap up another year, we’d like to take a moment to look back on some of our most popular posts. We pride ourselves on providing informative content for our readers by covering a range of wired and wireless technology topics. We sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading our posts as much as we enjoyed writing them and in case you missed anything, here’s a highlight reel of the most popular posts of 2017.


 1.       Cable Showdown: Cat6 vs. Cat6a


It’s a Cat eat Cat world out there and Cat6 and Cat6a are two of the most popular standards for Ethernet cables. So, how do you decide between the two? One may work better than the other, depending on your application. To help you pick a winner, we compared them side-by-side for a showdown of category proportions. To see how each Cat fared, read the post.



2.       White-Space Wi-Fi 802.11af


Waste not, want not, seems to be a growing way of life for many people these days, and that theme will soon apply to the Wi-Fi spectrum as well. The IEEE standard 802.11af, also known as white-space Wi-Fi or White-Fi, will utilize the unused space in the TV spectrum, the TV white-space, to support Wi-Fi networks. Read the post to find out how it all works.



3.       OM5 – The Next Generation of Multimode Fiber


OM5 was chosen to be the new standard for cabling containing wideband multimode fiber in the 3rd edition of the ISO/IEC 11801 standard. The acceptance of this standard is a milestone for the fiber cabling performance category because it extends the benefits of this revolutionary multimode fiber within connected buildings and data centers worldwide. To find what you need to know about OM5, click here.



4.       802.11ax – The Next Big Thing


The IEEE will be adding to its 802.11 series of standards again with the launch of 802.11ax. 802.11ax is under development and will pick-up where 802.11ac left off by taking MIMO to the next level with MIMO-OFDM. This next big upgrade to Wi-Fi networks might not make its debut for a couple of years, but here’s a look at what’s coming.



5.       75 Ohm vs. 50 Ohm – Coaxial Comparison


Ohm may sound like something you’d say while meditating, but when it comes to coaxial cables, it is actually a unit of resistance. Ohms measure the impedance within the cable. Impedance is resistance to the flow of electrical current through a circuit. To see how 75 Ohm and 50 Ohm compare, read our post.



Wireless Infrastructure 101

November 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM


You would be hard pressed to find a business, industry or home that doesn’t use wireless communication in some way. We depend on wireless networks used by our mobile devices, laptops, tablets and gaming systems to keep us connected, entertained and informed every day. Here, we’ll look at indoor and outdoor wireless infrastructure design considerations.




For wireless communication to work, radio frequency (RF) and microwaves are used to transmit voice, video and data. Radio frequencies are usually used in wireless networks, they range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz and are also used for AM broadcasting, navigational beacons and shortwave radio. Microwaves range from 300 MHz to 300 GHz and are typically used for television, FM broadcasting, aviation communications, and radar and satellite links. Most home, business and government networks operate on the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency bands that range from 900 MHz to 5 GHz. The ISM band frequencies incorporate many of the IEEE 802.11wireless standards.


Design Considerations


When designing a wireless network, you must always take into consideration the environmental variables in the installation area that will or could affect network performance.


Indoor RF Wireless Networks


During installation or expansion, indoor networks present a special set of factors to consider. Most wireless access points and routers have a typical range capability specified by the manufacturer. But these ranges are based on having clear line of sight, which requires an unobstructed view of the antenna from the remote point in the link. Unfortunately, this is not the case in most indoor installations, there is usually some type of obstacle present. For example, signals typically will not penetrate concrete walls and the other building materials such as metal studs, aluminum siding, foil-backed insulation, pipes, electrical wiring and furniture. All of these common obstacles can reduce signal range and affect the coverage area. Plus, other wireless equipment such as cordless phones, microwave ovens, radio transmitters and electrical equipment can cause interference and decrease the signal range.


Outdoor RF Wireless Networks


Outdoor wireless networks face many of the same challenges as indoor networks, such as reflections and multipath. Having a clear line of sight is also critical for an outdoor network, trees and leaves can obstruct 802.11 frequencies and block the signal completely. A site survey is recommended before an outdoor wireless network is deployed, it might also be necessary to clear obstacles.


To help you plan and design your wireless network, we offer a series of wireless calculators to get you started.

What You Need to Know About 802.11ay

November 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM


Products for 802.11ad have only begun hitting the market in the past year, and already the IEEE is working on improvements in the form of 802.11ay. This new and improved standard will expand upon 802.11ad technology by delivering faster and longer-range Wi-Fi networks. Expected to be released in late 2019, 802.11ay will increase bandwidth and improve the reliability and robustness of the unlicensed 60GHz millimeter wave spectrum. It will be designed to improve throughput, range and use-cases.


The next generation wireless standard promises significant improvements upon the 7 Gbps speed and 10-meter distance capabilities of 802.11ad. 802.11ay will be capable of transmission rates of 20 to 30 Gbps and distances of 30 meters with 11ay-to-11ay device setups. When channel bonding, MIMO and additional capabilities are added into the mix, it’s possible that 802.11ay will deliver speeds closer to 200 Gbps and extend transmission distances up to 300 meters.


As an amendment for improving the performance of the 802.11ad standard, 802.11ay will support the same broad applications and be backward compatible with the 802.11ad standard. 802.11ay will focus on new applications for mobile offloading, wireless docking and display connectivity. It will also be ideal for fixed point-to-point or point-to-multipoint outdoor backhaul applications. 802.11ay might also be used in internal mesh and backbone networks, to provide connectivity to VR headsets, support server backups and manage cloud applications that require low latency. The main targets for 802.11ay are DisplayPort, HDMI and USB connectivity, fast synch as well as short-range, high-bandwidth connectivity to TV and monitor displays. It could even act as a replacement for HDMI and USB and make the equipment more intuitive.


802.11ay is primed to pack a punch with super-charged 20 Gig speeds and greater transmission distance. This revolutionary IEEE standard will surely break records and set the standard for future wireless technology.


802.3bt and PoE

October 19, 2017 at 8:00 AM


In 2003 the first Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard was ratified and today there are more than 100 million devices that use PoE. It is an easy to install solution that provides an integrated and safe power standard for worldwide use. PoE has been deployed in high-volume applications such a wireless access points (APs) and Internet protocol (IP) phones to allow communications equipment to be installed in locations where no AC power source is available or where adding an AC outlet would be too costly.


The main limitation of PoE is the amount of power it’s able to supply. Even the most recent standardized version of PoE, 802.3at, is only able to provide a maximum of 25.5 Watts of power to a device. This modest amount of power has limited PoE use in many applications that require more power. Plus, with an increasing number of devices simultaneously connecting to Ethernet networks, the need for more PoE power continues to grow.


To address the demand for higher power PoE, the IEEE has been working on a new standard, 802.3bt. This newest standard is slated to debut this year and aims to double or triple the power output of the current PoE standard, 802.3at. IEEE 802.3bt increases the maximum PoE power available by employing all four pairs of the structured wiring of an Ethernet cable. It delivers extended power management capabilities and enables multiple PoE classes while also being backward compatible. Additionally, the 802.3bt standard may also standardize PoE with 10Gbase-T.


The ability to provide higher power to end devices will drastically expand the number of applications able to use PoE. This will include high-volume applications such as point-of-sale, building management and industrial control systems. Delivering power and data on the same link with PoE will make life easier, and cheaper for design engineers who will be able to save time and money on installation when compared to running separate data and power lines. It also makes relocation of devices simple and as easy as moving a cable, rather than having to hire an electrician to move or add AC power outlets. 


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