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IEEE develops WLAN standards for fast roaming and mesh applications

28 July 2005 - IEEE develops standards for fast roaming and mesh application in wireless local area networks (WLAN)

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) has started considering proposals for standardizing fast roaming and mesh applications in wireless local area networks (WLAN). According to IEEE, "IEEE P802.11r, will make it easier to use wireless voice-over-IP (VOIP) and other real-time interactive applications. The mesh project, IEEE P802.11s, will extend WLAN range by allowing data to pass through wireless nodes." 

Mesh Networks
Wireless mesh networks can link many wireless LANs to cover a city or campus. Essentially the mesh standard is to extend the range of WLAN access points. A conventional wireless access point needs its own wired link to a backbone network, while with a wireless mesh just one connection serving many access points. In this way the mesh ultimately reduces costs.

The task of assessing the proposals is being handled by the standard which will be called IEEE 802.11s is being handled by the 802.11s working group.

"Task Group s will create a mesh service standard so wireless access nodes spread over a large area can connect to a main node. This arrangement will extend coverage beyond the typical WLAN connectivity limit of 300 ft. from an access point and make it quicker and easier to install WLAN service without hard-wired connections. In a mesh, a single access point can serve a large facility or broad sensor array. Mesh networks can also allow the military to place repeater nodes on mobile units that link to a central point or let a fireman become a node in a communications network in an emergency."

According to IEEE reports, a draft could be ready by May, 2006. Immediately the draft is released, wireless network vendors can start developing products that will meet the standard.

Fast Roaming
"The Fast Roaming Task Group will standardize MAC layer enhancements that minimize non-connectivity time between a roaming WLAN unit and the wired access points within a local area network. The standard will seek to foster the use of mobile, wireless VOIP phones and other time-sensitive WLAN applications by eliminating perceptible disconnections as 802.11-based handsets transition from one access point to another during a handoff within an administrative domain of a local area network such as in a hospital, an office environment, or a college campus." 

The task of assessing the proposals is being handled by the standard which will be called IEEE 802.11r is being handled by the 802.11r working group.

"The IEEE 802.11 Working Group is committed to creating standards for all aspects of wireless LAN operation worldwide," said Stuart J. Kerry, Chairman of the IEEE P802.11 standards committee. "Task Groups r and s reflect this commitment. The standards they will develop should help open a variety of new WLAN applications and continue to promote the rapid growth of IEEE 802.11-based wireless systems." 

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