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New Standard Opens Door for High Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks

The top speed of wireless personal area networks has just jumped to 55 Mbps from 1 Mbps, under a new standard from the IEEE. This increase opens the door for the broad use of multi-media, digital imaging, high quality audio and other high bandwidth WPAN applications that need a wireless solution combining low cost and low power with high data rates and robust quality of service (QoS).

The new standard, IEEE 802.15.3, "Wireless Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications for High Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN)," allows a WPAN to link as many as 245 wireless consumer devices in a home at data rates to 55 Mbps at distances from a few centimeters to 100 m.

IEEE 802.15.3 provides for high rate wireless connectivity in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency band among fixed and portable devices.

It specifies raw data rates of 11, 22, 33, 44 and 55 Mbps, which can provide data throughputs in excess of 45 Mbps. The rate chosen affects typical transmission ranges, for example, as much as 50 m at 55 Mbps and 100 m at 22 Mbps.

The highest rate accommodates low latency, multi-media connections and large-file-transfer, while 11 and 22 Mbps provide long range connectivity of audio devices. The standard includes all the elements needed for reliable QoS. It uses TDMA to allocate channel time among devices to prevent conflicts and only provides new allocations for an application if enough bandwidth is available. Devices that implement 802.15.3 connect in an ad hoc manner and communicate by peer-to-peer networking, allowing them to connect without user intervention. Data in the network may be protected using advanced encryption standard (AES) 128, which was approved by the US government in 2001 to replace the older data encryption standard (DES). Networks formed under IEEE 802.15.3 are configured so they co-exist with other IEEE 802.15 WPANs, such as Bluetooth systems, and with IEEE 802.11 wireless local area networks, such as Wi-Fi systems.

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