The top speed of wireless personal area networks (WPAN) has just jumped to 55 Mb/s from 1 Mb/s (megabits per second) under a new standard from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). This increase opens the door for the broad use of multimedia, digital imaging, high-quality audio and other high-bandwidth WPAN applications that need a wireless solution combining low-cost and low-power with high data rates and robust quality of service (QoS).
The new standard, IEEE 802.15.3, "Wireless Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications for High Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN)," allows a WPAN to link as many as 245 wireless consumer devices in a home at data rates to 55 Mbps at distances from a few centimeters to 100 meters.
IEEE 802.15.3 provides for high-rate wireless connectivity in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency band among fixed and portable devices. It specifies raw data rates of 11, 22, 33, 44 and 55 Mbps, which can provide data throughputs in excess of 45 Mbps. The rate chosen affects typical transmission range, for example, as much as 50 m at 55 Mbps and 100 m at 22 Mbps. The highest rate accommodates low-latency, multimedia connections and large-file-transfer, while 11 and 22 Mbps provide long-range connectivity for audio devices.
"We created the standard in response to the strong demand from end users and manufacturers who want to interconnect portable devices without undue expense yet transfer multimedia, still digital images and audio content in home networks," says Robert F. Heile, IEEE 802.15 Working Group Chair.
"This comprehensive standard addresses such priorities as network economy, frequency, performance, power consumption and data-rate scalability. From a cost stand-point, we limited the need for external components and allowed the radio and protocol to appear on no more than two chips that fit within a compact flash card."
The standard includes all the elements needed for reliable QoS. It uses TDMA (time division multiple access) to allocate channel time among devices to prevent conflicts and only provides new allocations for an application if enough bandwidth is available.
Devices that implement 802.15.3 connect in an ad hoc manner and communicate by peer-to-peer networking, allowing them to connect without user intervention. Data in the network may be protected using AES 128 (advanced encryption standard), which was approved by US government in 2001 to replace the older DES (data encryption standard).
Networks formed under IEEE 802.15.3 are configured so they coexist with other IEEE 802.15 WPANs, such as BlueTooth(TM) systems, and with IEEE 802.11(TM) wireless local area networks, such as Wi-Fi systems.
The IEEE also approved IEEE 802.15.2(TM), "Coexistence of Wireless Personal Area Networks with Other Wireless Devices Operating in Unlicensed Frequency Bands." This recommended practice describes multiple methods that can be used to enhance the coexistence of IEEE 802.15.1(TM) and IEEE 802.11 wireless local area networks, especially IEEE 802.11b(TM) and IEEE 802.11g(TM) WLANs operating in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band.
IEEE 802.15 standards are sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society (http://www.computer.org/)