Tripling the rate of wireless LANs

The IEEE has begun to develop a standard that will raise the effective throughput of Wireless Local Area Networks to at least 100 Mbps, which is more than triple the current maximum IEEE 802 WLAN speed of 30 Mbps.

The IEEE has begun to develop a standard that will raise the effective throughput of Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) to at least 100 Mbps (megabits per second), which is more than triple the current maximum IEEE 802 WLAN speed of 30 Mbps.

The higher-speed standard, IEEE P802.11n, ‘Wireles LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications: Enhancements for Higher Effective Throughput,’ will help WLANs meet the expanding bandwidth needs of enterprise and home networks, as well as those of WLAN hot spots.

Enterprise networks in offices and campuses typically have 100 Mbps wired network connections. The standard will create parity between wired and wireless systems, so enterprises can extend their use of wireless networks to areas where the rate of existing wireless products has been insufficient.

IEEE P802.11n will also help home networks accommodate higher-end consumer applications, such as those for data-intensive multimedia equipment having multiple channels of high-resolution digital video. In addition, it will allow WLAN hot spots in airports, hotels, cafes and other public spaces to offer at least twice the number of user connections than is now possible.

‘WLANs having throughputs of 100 Mbps were considered impossible just a few years ago,’ said Stuart J. Kerry, IEEE 802.11 Working Group Chair. ‘But the success of IEEE 802.11 WLANs and a number of technology improvements have made far greater throughput feasible. These improvements include higher-performing radio frequency and analog chips based on advanced CMOS technology and the integration of entire WLAN adapters onto a single chip.

‘We expect the new standard to meet the current demand for better WLAN service and allow a range of advanced uses. It might, for example, let wireless systems replace data-hungry wired networks such as those serving groups involved in computer-aided design.’

The speed objective set in IEEE P802.11n will be defined in a different way than in other IEEE 802 standards, e.g., IEEE 802.11g. The standard will address higher effective throughput at the MAC interface, rather than as a signalling bit rate in the PHY layer modulation scheme.

By focusing on the MAC data service access point, the objective throughput in the standard should more closely match what users see in transferring files and other tasks.