Help for the IEEE 802.11 working group website

Return to the IEEE 802.11 working group home page


This is the website of the IEEE 802.11(tm) working group.

The 802.11 working group is part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) standards association. Responsible for writing standards related to wireless local area networks (WLANs).  We have about 400 active members at any time,  which are involved in developing new WLAN standards.  Our sister projects (802.*) are involved in standardizing other kinds of networks (See "IEEE Links"/"IEEE 802 working groups").

There is a lot of information on this website.   This page gives some introductory suggestions on how to use it for those who want to monitor activity in 802.11,  and those who want to become more engaged.

References to 802.11 home page menu entries are shown thus ("menu"/"item") below.  That is, go back to the home page and look for the menus at the top of the screen.

If you want to understand what is going on or decode the "alphabet soup"

The 802.11 working group has many activities taking place at the same time,  most of which relate to the (possible) production of a standard to implement a well-defined feature set.  Once a project is authorized by the IEEE Standards Association,  it is given a designation P802.11xx.  This page describes current activities and both current and past projects.

If you want to watch what's going on

There is a lot of information available to the public.  All submissions that determine what goes into a new standard are publicly accessible under the "Documents" menu.

You can follow discussion and debate amongst the members using the email reflectors ("WG Email"),  by reading the working group closing reports and minutes ("Group Updates/Working Group"),  or by reading the appropriate task group update ("Group Updates"/"Task Groups") and minutes ("Document Server".  Then select your task group of interest from the pull down and enter "minutes" in the "DCN, Title, Author or Affiliation" box.)

If you want to get involved in the work of 802.11

The answer is simple:  attend 802.11 meetings. 

There are three kinds of "groups" that are active:  the "Working Group" comprises about 300 active members and oversees the work of  all the 802.11 "Task Groups".  Each task group is responsible for a single published standard (e.g. TGax is responsible for 802.11ax).   Before a Task Group is formed, a "Study Group" works on early requirements and an IEEE-SA project authorization request.

The working group and task groups meet together every 2 months according to the schedule described in ("Session Info"/"Future sessions").   There is a fee for meeting attendance, which covers the meeting expenses.  Attendance at these sessions is the only way to gain and maintain active 802.11 member status.

Task and study groups hold telecon meetings,  as advertised in the working group calendar ("Telecons"/"Meetings Calendar").  These are open meetings that anybody may attend, without fee.

See also the information in ("WG Info"/"How to participate"/"About IEEE 802.11") and ("WG Info"/"Quick guide").

What documents are available?

The "mentor" document server ("Document Server") provides full read-only access of working documents (submissions) to the public.

The output of a task group is a draft standard,  which eventually becomes a published standard.  Draft standards are sometimes made available for sale using Techstreet ("Documents"/"Purchase IEEE Standards").  All 802.11 draft standards are available to active 802.11 members (and active members of other 802 working groups) free of charge.

Published standards are made available for sale using Techstreet ("Documents"/"Purchase IEEE Standards").   Six months after publication,  standards are made available free of charge under the Get802 program ("Documents"/"IEEE Get 802 Program").

Structure of this website

The 802.11 home page contains:

The pull-down menu bar has menus for:


Is there a tutorial on how 802.11 works?

Some tutorials were presented in 1996 and 1999.   You can find them using the pull-down menus at ("WG General/WG Tutorials").

From the working group's perspective, 802.11 is a volunteer organization.  Its members are generally affiliated with an organization that pays for them to attend its meetings and contribute to the development of WLAN standards.  There is apparently little interest in providing tutorial material,  especially as there are multiple commercial courses on 802.11 available.

Is there a tutorial on how <insert latest greatest activity here> works?

No. The members are generally busy creating technology rather than describing it to others.  However,  all the submissions from which a draft standard/amendment are created are available on the document server.

I'm going to attend a session of 802.11 and want to post a document to the server.  Can I?

Yes and no.  Write access to the 802.11 document server is provided only to active members of 802.11.  Prior to your first 802.11,  you are not an active member.  There are multiple reasons for this rule,  one of which is that 802.11 active members are deemed to be aware of the relevant rules that govern what documents can say,  and how they are presented.

If you are in this situation,  contact one of the 802.11 officers for assistance.  In the past we have reviewed (for compliance) and uploaded documents on behalf of prospective active members.

How can I get a contact name?

The officers are listed in the menus "WG Info/Chairs' contact info".

The members are listed in the menus "Membership list".

I'm not a member. Why can't I get on the email reflector?

The ability to subscribe to the email reflectors is a privilege of membership,  and is restricted to active members of 802.11 (or other 802 working groups).

But the email reflectors are open.  You can view traffic on any 802.11 reflector using the "WG Email" menu.

How do I get to be a voting member of 802.11?

Voting membership is gained by attending 802.11 sessions and recording electronic attendance.   The level of attendance needs to exceed a certain amount (75%) for that session to count.

You need to attend two plenary sessions (one of which may be substituted by an interim session).  Voting membership is granted at the start of the next plenary at which attendance is recorded.

The above statements are introductory simplifications.   Refer to ("WG Info"/"How to participate"/"About IEEE 802.11") for more detail, including a definition of the terms used above.

I'm already a member of IEEE or IEEE-SA,  how can I be a member of 802.11?

Membership of IEEE or IEEE-SA has no effect on your membership of 802.11.

Please see "How do I get to be a voting member of 802.11?"

You need an IEEE web account to attend an 802.11 meeting,  these are available without cost.  They do not require membership of IEEE.

Certain working-group officers are required to be members of IEEE-SA,  but there is no general requirement on other members.

My team has some exciting new technology, which we'd like to contribute to the standard.  How do I do this?

The IEEE 802.11 standard is modified through projects:  amendments and revisions.   An amendment project is use to introduce a major new capability (and explains all the "dot letters" terms,  such as 802.11n,  which was amendment lettered "n").  A revision project is used to roll all the amendments together and fix up inconsistencies between them.  Sometime new capabilities are added in a revision,  but that is the exception.

The first step to engaging with 802.11 is to attend a face-to-face meeting of 802.11 and make a presentation to the Wireless Next Generation (WNG) meeting.   You will get typically 30 minutes to explain yourself to a room with 100-200 802.11 participants in it.   You should listen to feedback and prepare to repeat this exercise over a period of several months.

Once there is enough "mindshare" for a new project, a Study Group is formed to write a project proposal to the IEEE standards association.

If the IEEE-SA approves the project,  the project typically goes through a lifecycle of determining requirements,  hearing technical proposals,  selecting proposals,  balloting a draft, addressing comments on the draft.  All participants have an equal opportunity of contributing technology during this process.

Note that contributing your technology to the draft has a high bar - you have to persuade the ~300 voting members of 802.11 that it is what they want to do.

Why should an individual sponsor an individual to attend IEEE 802.11 standards meetings?

Individuals attending standards meeting have an opportunity to shape the 802.11 standards of tomorrow throughout their entire lifecycle of:  project definition,  technical creativity,  quality improvement,  ongoing maintenance.

Their contributions can benefit the feature set of 802.11,  which can grown the total available market,  or cause a market refresh as existing standards are superseded by more capable ones.

Through discussions with other participants,  they can form a bigger picture of where the industry is going or likely to go.  By being there they can also gain not only a technical understanding of  what the standard is,  but also the trade-offs embedded in the standard and the reason for them.

Why should my small company bother to send any body when the large companies have so many voters and appear to call the shots?

IEEE 802.11 adheres strictly to the IEEE policies on dominance.   Participants are required to act as individuals.  If a small company sends a single participant that individual will be given an equal chance to any other participant to make their point.

Behaviors that don't follow this model are challenged, and corrective action is taken if necessary.