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.


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.


Standards Showdown: 802.11 Standards Side-by-Side

July 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM


The IEEE is almost always working on another new amendment to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. We now have nearly as many 802.11 standards as there are letters in the alphabet, and keeping them straight can get confusing. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all of the 802.11 standards, old and new, for easy reference. 


HaLow Wi-Fi for the IoT

April 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM


The Internet of Things (IoT) might have found a saving grace for keeping all of those “things” connected. HaLow Wi-Fi, pronounced like halo (hay-low), is coming to scene with a list of virtues p

erfect for smart homes, smart cars, smart cities, and even healthcare, industrial, retail and agriculture.


Generally, we’re used to Wi-Fi aiming to achieve lightning fast speeds with the ability to move large amounts of data.  But with IoT devices, there’s no need for super-speeds and the amount of data being transmitted is typically small.  The real need of the IoT is for devices to remain connected wherever they are without dwindling power supplies or depending on cellular data. 


HaLow Wi-Fi is slated to offer double the coverage range of traditional Wi-Fi while lowering power consumption. This would not only set it apart from other Wi-Fi standards, but also make it ideal for many IoT applications. Thus, the Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping HaLow will replace cellular networks in smart cities and Bluetooth radios in wearable devices.


HaLow is an extension of the IEEE 802.11ah standard and uses the 900 MHz bandwidth instead of the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. The 900 MHz band is a low-frequency workhorse usually reserved for microwaves ovens and baby monitors. By using this robust frequency for Wi-Fi, the signal is able to reach further and penetrate objects and obstacles without dwindling the device’s power supply – many of which run solely on batteries.


Reported data rates for Halow are between 150 kilobits and 18 megabits per second. This is significantly less than traditional Wi-Fi rates, but speed is not the focus in this case. For the IoT,  power consumption, reliability and distance are the priority. The HaLow standard will be official next year and might be exactly the  divine intervention needed for the IoT.


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802.11ax - The Next Big Thing

March 2, 2017 at 8:00 AM


The IEEE is at it again. Its long-running 802.11 series of standards will be reincarnated yet again with the launch of 802.11ax.  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 is coming.


802.11ax is under development and will pick-up where 802.11ac left off by taking MIMO to the next level with MIMO-OFDM. MIMO-OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) technology will be capable of subdividing signals even further which ultimately creates a bigger "pipe" to deliver larger volumes of data. This will significantly expand and increase throughput to deliver five times more capability than the gigabit speeds promised by 802.11ac. Lab-based trials of 802.11ax have even hit max speeds of 10.53Gbps, or around 1.4 gigabytes of data transfer per second.


As impressive as those speeds sound, 802.11ax is not just focused on being fast; its real focus is high-density Wi-Fi deployments. This means that the goal is not only to improve speed, but to enhance the ability of connections to remain active even when there is heavy interference. This will make the system more efficient with the sophistication to successfully route pieces of messages to their destination. 802.11ax will operate in the 5GHz band, where there is plenty of space for 80MHz and 160MHz channels.


Before you get too excited, implementing a new standard is a time-consuming and rigorous process, so we won’t likely see 802.11ax ratified until closer to 2019. Then it will take even more time before certified hardware hits the market.


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