Code360 powered by Coding Ninjas X Code360 powered by Coding Ninjas X
Table of contents
What is IEEE 802.11 Networks?
What is IEEE 802.11 Architecture?
What is the Frame Format of IEEE 802.11?
What are 802 Standards?
What are the standards of IEEE 802.11 networking?
Comparison Table: 802.11 standards
802.11 Services
Advantages of IEEE 802.11 Architechture
Disadvantages of IEEE 802.11 Architecture
Applications of IEEE 802.11 Architecture
Wi-Fi Alternatives
Frequently Asked Questions
Is IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi 5 or 6?
Is IEEE 802.11 a protocol?
What are the three types of IEEE 802.11 have?
What is the latest IEEE 802.11 standard?
Last Updated: May 3, 2024

IEEE 802.11 Networks

Author Sohail Ali
1 upvote
Master Python: Predicting weather forecasts
Ashwin Goyal
Product Manager @


You often must have heard about IEEE and related standards. IEEE Standard stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It is a non-profit organization whose primary interest is in electrotechnology. IEEE writes the standard for the technologies we use, such as Wi-Fi.

What is IEEE 802.11 Networks?

In this blog, we will discuss IEEE 802.11 standards in detail, along with their advancements. So without further delay, let’s start learning.

What is IEEE 802.11 Networks?

IEEE 802.11 is just a technical name for Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is a wireless LAN that is based on the standard provided by IEEE 802.11. Some key features of IEEE 802.11 are as it works similarly to a LAN but without any need for a wired connection. Therefore Wi-Fi is also referred to as wireless LAN (WLAN). It can also integrate with 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. Wi-Fi uses WPA encryption for security purposes. It has a very high data transfer rate using which data sharing can be done instantly between different devices. Wi-Fi can detect a device’s location by locating the points of Wi-Fi hotspots.

Get the tech career you deserve, faster!
Connect with our expert counsellors to understand how to hack your way to success
User rating 4.7/5
1:1 doubt support
95% placement record
Akash Pal
Senior Software Engineer
326% Hike After Job Bootcamp
Himanshu Gusain
Programmer Analyst
32 LPA After Job Bootcamp
After Job

What is IEEE 802.11 Architecture?

The parts of an IEEE 802.11 architecture are:

Stations (STA) - These devices and equipment are connected to the wireless LAN. There are two types of stations:

  • Wireless Access Point (WAP) - These are like wireless routers that act as base stations or access points.
  • Clients - Clients include workstations, computers, laptops, printers, smartphones, etc.

Basic Service Set (BSS) is a group of devices that communicate with each other directly. There are two types of BSS:

  • Infrastructure BSS - Devices in this category communicate through access points.
  • Independent BSS - Devices in this category communicate directly with each other ad hoc way, without access points. An IBSS is usually a temporary network of several stations that come together for a specific reason.

Extended Service Set (ESS) is formed when multiple BSSs are connected. These more extensive networks are made by joining the access points of smaller service groups using a wired LAN called a distribution system. In ESS, there are two types of stations:

  • Mobile stations - These are regular stations found within a smaller group.
  • Stationary station - These access points are part of the wired LAN.

What is the Frame Format of IEEE 802.11?

Frame Format of IEEE 802.11

A typical IEEE 802.11 data frame consists of the following fields:

Frame Control: This field carries information about the structure, such as the frame type, subtype, and various control flags (e.g., to show fragmentation and data retry). It is 2 bytes long frame.

Duration: The Duration is a 2-byte field that defines the time required to send the frame, which helps avoid crashes in the wireless medium. Specific frame types use this field as an identifier.

Address fields: These fields are of 6 bytes that suggest where the data is arriving from (source), where it should go next (immediate destination), and where it's finally assumed to end up (final endpoint). 

Sequence: It's a small section in the frame, only 2 bytes, and it keeps track of frame numbers.

Data: This field can have different lengths and holds specific information for each frame. It moves from the sender to the receiver(s) without being noticed or changed. The maximum size of the data field is 2312 bytes.

Check Sequence: It is a 4-byte field incorporating error or fault detection data.

What are 802 Standards?

Some must known 802 standards are listed below:

Sr NoStandardArea 
1802The base of all family standard
3802.1DMAC bridging
4802.1EQuality of Service
5802.1GRemote MAC bridging
6802.2Link control (Logical)
7802.3CSMA/CD Ethernet physical layer
8802.4Total bus access method
9802.5Total ring access method
11802.9Integrated voice and data access
12802.11Wi-Fi/ WLAN

What are the standards of IEEE 802.11 networking?

There are different types of WLAN standards, such as 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. They all use carrier-sense multiple access with collision avoidance to handle how devices communicate. These standards can work with networks with a central base station and networks where devices connect directly.

Let us now see the most known standards of 802.11 in detail.


This standard is also known as Wi-Fi 1. It was launched before 802.11a, providing an 11 Mbps data rate with a 5 GHz band. This is the most widespread variant of the standard, which is typically found in hotspots. It specifies DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum). Both 802.11a and 802.11b are called legacy protocols.


This standard is also referred to as Wi-Fi 2. It defines the structure of radio signals of Wi-Fi antennas and routers. It operates in the UNII band at 5GHz bandwidth. This standard has a higher data speed than 802.11b, with a maximum of up to 54 Mbps. It uses OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing). Due to high frequency, it has a less indoor range of 20-30m approximately.


This standard provides higher data rates compared to its previous version. It provides a 56 Mbps data rate with a 2.4 GHz band. It uses DSS or FSSS (Frequency Hopping spread spectrum) and OFDM. It is backward compatible with 802.11b, but it must work in the 802.11b access point coverage area. It is also known as Wi-Fi 3.


This standard provides a fast data speed rate of 72 to 600 Mbps at 2.4-5 GHz frequency. It effectively replaces 802.11 a, b, and g for the local area network. To send and receive data, it used multiple antennas. This system is referred to as MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) techniques which can effectively increase throughput. It is known as Wi-Fi 4.


This standard supports an overall speed of 1733 Mbps with a 5GHz band. It is an evolution of the 802.11n standard. It provides multiple spatial streams at the same time. A spatial stream for a single user is called SU-MIMO; for multiple users, it is called MU-MIMO. It was launched in 2014 and is referred to as Wi-Fi 5.

Comparison Table: 802.11 standards

Below is the comparison of different 802.11 standards which we have discussed so far.







Number of non-overlapping


Modulation technique
802.11a3.7/52035 m11OFDM and DSS
802.11b2.42035 m3DSSS
802.11g2.42038 m1/6/11DSSS and OFDM
802.11n2.4/520-4070 m3/11OFDM
802.11ac520/40/8035 m2/6/12/24OFDM

802.11 Services

The 802.11 provides various services, which are given below.

  • Distribution Services: This service decides where to send data messages. 
  • Integration Services: This service performs media or address space translations. It connects 802.11 WLAN with other LANs in the network.
  • Association Services: In order to send the data through a distribution system, each station needs to invoke this service with an access point. An access point can have multiple stations, but each station can have only a single access point.
  • Re-Association Services: It allows the transmission of packets between the new access point and the old access point.
  • Dis-Association Services: This service is used by stations to inform an access point about the needlessness of WLAN services.
  • Privacy Services: 802.11 uses WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) to implement its privacy services. In this method, a WEP key is generated, which is used to encrypt all the messages in the system. Stations use these keys to read the messages.
  • Authentication: A station must be validated before giving access to the WLAN for data delivery. This service is used to authenticate the stations.
  • Pre-Authentication: This service is used to speed up the transition process between different access points. It is a pre-step of re-association. 
  • De-Authentication: This will remove all the previous authenticated stations. Once de-authenticated, stations cannot access WLAN for data transfer.

Advantages of IEEE 802.11 Architechture

Wi-Fi provides a wide range of services, and it has a lot of advantages which are given below.

  • It is a versatile wireless network connection.
  • It offers a hotspot feature, a physical location where people can access the internet.
  • It is low-cost and easy to set up.
  • We only need to configure SSID and password.
  • It provides WPA encryption which is used to encrypt radio signals.
  • It provides a high data transfer rate and offers 20 meters of connectivity.
  • It is more affordable and supports roaming as well.

Disadvantages of IEEE 802.11 Architecture

Until now, we have seen many features and advantages of using Wi-Fi, but with every advantage comes drawbacks. Let's take a look at a few limitations of using Wi-Fi.

  • Wi-Fi provides a network connection limited to an area of 20-30 meters.
  • Due to less range coverage, the signal strength weakens as distance increases.
  • Compared to a direct wired connection, it provides a relatively slower speed.
  • Wi-Fi emits radiation just like cell phones, which harms human beings and other creatures.
  • There is no feature firewall in Wi-Fi; therefore, unauthorized access and data stealing is possible.
  • Even though Wi-Fi uses WEP encryption, they are still vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Applications of IEEE 802.11 Architecture

IEEE 802.11 architecture, commonly known as Wi-Fi, finds widespread applications in wireless networking. It facilitates wireless communication between devices such as laptops, smartphones, and IoT devices within a local area network (LAN). Applications include internet access in homes, businesses, and public spaces, wireless printing, streaming media, online gaming, and enabling connectivity for smart home devices, industrial automation, healthcare systems, and transportation networks.

Wi-Fi Alternatives

We can use various other wireless technology in place of Wi-Fi, depending on our requirements.

  • Bluetooth is a technology that enables users to send and receive data over a short distance using wireless technology.
  • Zigbee is another famous alternative to Wi-Fi. It consists of a mesh network structure where a host of devices are connected together in order to distribute the data. It has low power consumption, low cost, and easy implementation.
  • Another alternative for Wi-Fi is LoRa (Long Range), which is a radio communication technique. It offers low power, long range, and secure data transmission for M2M (Machine to Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things) applications.

There are many more Wi-Fi alternatives apart from them which you can use depending on your needs and budget.

Also see, Basic Networking Commands

Frequently Asked Questions

Is IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi 5 or 6?

IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi 5 is also known as 802.11ac, while Wi-Fi 6 is designated as IEEE 802.11ax. Wi-Fi 5 operates on the 5 GHz frequency band and provides faster speeds and improved performance compared to previous versions, while Wi-Fi 6 introduces further enhancements in speed, capacity, and efficiency.

Is IEEE 802.11 a protocol?

IEEE 802.11 is a group of rules for wireless computer networks. It's part of a more extensive set of standards called IEEE 802, which covers how devices connect in a local area network (LAN). 

What are the three types of IEEE 802.11 have?

The IEEE 802.11 standard has three frame types: Data for sending actual payload, Management for network management, and Control for managing data transmission.

What is the latest IEEE 802.11 standard?

Wi-Fi 6 or IEEE 802.11ax is the most recent version of the 802.11 protocol. Faster data transfer is provided by this upgraded version of Wi-Fi, which operates at both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.


This article discusses the IEEE 802.11 standard in detail. We discussed different standards among 802 protocols and services provided by 802.11. We hope this blog has helped you enhance your knowledge of the IEEE 802.11 standard. If you want to learn more, then check out our articles.

And many more on our platform Code360.

Refer to our Guided Path to upskill yourself in DSACompetitive ProgrammingJavaScriptSystem Design, and many more! If you want to test your coding ability, you may check out the mock test series and participate in the contests.

But suppose you have just started your learning process and are looking for questions from tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Uber, etc. In that case, you must look at the problemsinterview experiences, and interview bundles for placement preparations.

However, you may consider our paid courses to give your career an edge over others!

Happy Learning!

Previous article
IEEE Standards in Computer Networks
Next article
Digital Subscriber Line
Live masterclass