The IEEE P802.11g™ standard for wireless local area networks (LAN), which will extend the data rate of the IEEE 802.11b™-1999 to 54 Mbps from its current level of 11 Mbps, has been approved by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group. Two approval steps remain within the consensus process followed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers before IEEE 802.11g is completed. Final approval is expected in mid-June 2003 with publication in late July 2003.

The 802.11g Task Group, which is developing this standard, was formed in September 2000. It is a diverse body containing representatives from well over 100 computer, networking and software companies, as well as those from consultant organizations and academic institutions. "By extending the IEEE 802.11b PHY to 54 Mbps, IEEE 802.11g will create data-rate parity at 2.4 GHz with IEEE standard 802.11a™, which allows for a 54 Mbps rate at 5 GHz," said Stuart Kerry, chair of the IEEE 802.11 Working Group. "Given the large installed base of commercial 802.11b-based WLANs, there is a strong market demand for this extension to 54 Mbps so existing WLANs can operate more efficiently. Now that we have a complete draft of the IEEE P802.11g standard, some manufacturers are beginning to release products in accordance with it. While the IEEE is pleased to see early development of products based on our work, it is quite speculative to release products at this time."

"The IEEE P802.11g draft had technical changes made to it at the January session and further changes were expected starting in March 2003 based on comments received from the sponsor organization of IEEE 802.11," said Brian Mathews, the IEEE 802.11 publicity chair. He added, "The only sure way to guarantee compliance and avoid potential interoperability problems is to wait for final ratification of 802.11g, which is highly likely in June 2003."

The 802.11g Task Group updated its draft to version 6.1 at its meeting in January 2003. The 802.11g draft obtained approval of the IEEE 802.11 Working Group on Draft 6.1 via balloting that closed on February 4, 2003. The IEEE 802 Executive Committee approved forwarding of the draft to the IEEE Standard Association for final balloting at the sponsor level. Initial balloting results from the sponsor level were expected back before the IEEE 802.11g Task Group met in Dallas in March 2003. At that session, the IEEE 802.11g Task Group planned to update the draft to version 7.0 based on subcommittee comments. "We are very pleased with the accelerated progress that we achieved in January and February of this year," said Matthew Shoemake, chairperson of the IEEE 802.11g Task Group. "This quick progress has significantly increased the likelihood of having final approval by June 2003."

IEEE P802.11g, "Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications: Higher Speed Physical Layer Extension to IEEE 802.11b," will boost wireless LAN speed to 54 Mbps by using orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM). The IEEE 802.11g specification is backward compatible with the widely deployed IEEE 802.11b standard. By using an enhanced protocol, 802.11g enables mixed network operation. This mixed operation allows legacy 802.11b devices to operate at 11 Mbps while new 802.11g devices operate at 54 Mbps on the same network. This simultaneous operation capability will give consumers a clean path to upgraded performance without having to be tethered to 802.11b performance when in a mixed network. The extension will improve access to fixed network LANs and inter-network infrastructures, and will also create higher performing ad-hoc networks. IEEE 802.11g maintains the spectral mask and carrier frequencies of the IEEE 802.11b standard.

IEEE P802.11g, which is being developed by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group for Wireless LANs, is sponsored by the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee of the IEEE Computer Society. For further information, visit: