IEEE Project 802

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IEEE project 802 of the IEEE (formerly the [Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, which is the main body developing physical layer protocols and medium access control protocols for wired and wireless local area networks (LAN). It also develops standards for physical layer repeaters and concentrators, as well as for layer 2 bridges. It defines virtual local area networks (VLAN) that are overlays to physical networks. In the terms of the Internet Protocol Suite, it is responsible for interface protocols; in the Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model (OSIRM), it is responsible for layer 1 and layer 2 used in local area networks.

The group's number is derived from its founding date in February 1980, when it was created to establish open standards for what was then the industry standard for Ethernet. Since there were some competing proposals, the committee originally established three working groups:

  • IEEE 802.1, responsible for general architecture, especially VLAN and bridging techniques
  • IEEE 802.2, with a relatively narrow scope of Logical Link Control protocols that make the details of a Medium Access Control mechanism hidden from the higher-level protocols above it, such as Internet Protocol
  • IEEE 802.3, responsible for the physical and medium access control aspects of derivatives of Ethernet; has produced over 30 standards

A number of other groups, such as IEEE 802.4, 802.5, and 802.6, became inactive when their fundamental technologies became obsoleted by 802.3 developments.

Newer and active committees include;

  • IEEE 802.11, responsible for short (hundreds of meters to low kilometers) wireless LANs ("Wi-Fi")
  • IEEE 802.16, responsible for longer-range (tens of kilometers) wireless LANs ("Wi-Max"), originally developed for connecting isolated cellular telephony sites to the main telephony network, but now has a variety of additional applications, such as wireless local loop, the most labor-intensive part of a telephone network; and wireless point-to-point links between points in line-of-sight that cannot be easily connected by a cable.