The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) has approved amendments to two networking standards. One, IEEE 802.11f, sets specifications so access point devices from different vendors in IEEE 802.11 wireless local area networks (WLAN) can interoperate. The other, IEEE 802.16/conformance01, allows end users to evaluate how well a product designed for IEEE 802.16 wireless municipal area networks (WMAN) conform to the standard. IEEE 802.11f, “Recommended Practices for Multi-vendor Access Point Interoperability via Inter-access Point Protocol Across Distribution System Supporting IEEE 802.11 Operations,” adds definitions for access points and distribution systems absent from the IEEE 802.11 standard.

The lack of such definitions in the base standard allowed for flexible distribution system and access point design, but access point devices having different approaches often could not interoperate across a distribution system. This has impeded the growth of the WLAN market. IEEE 802.11f corrects this by specifying the information exchange needed between access points so distribution systems with different access points can work together.

IEEE 802.16/conformance01, “Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement (PICS) Proforma for 10-66 GHz Wireless MAN-SC Air Interface,” contains a document to be filled out by product suppliers who claim to implement the standard. In it, suppliers can state what capabilities and options they implemented in a product and if limitations exist that might prevent interworking. This conformance statement allows end users to evaluate how well a product meets their requirements.