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The IEEE 802 Standards

The key to the development of the LAN market is the availability of a low-cost interface. The cost to connect equipment to a LAN must be much less than the cost of the equipment alone. This requirement, plus the complexity of the LAN logic, dictates a solution based on the use of chips and very-large-scale integration (VLSI). However, chip manufacturers are reluctant to commit the necessary resources unless there's a high-volume market. A widely accepted LAN standard assures that volume and also enables equipment from a variety of manufacturers to intercommunicate. This is the rationale of the IEEE 802 committee.

The committee issued a set of standards, which were subsequently adopted in 1985 by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as American National Standards. These standards were subsequently revised and reissued as international standards by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1987, with the designation ISO 8802. Since then, the IEEE 802 committee has continued to revise and extend the standards, which are ultimately then adopted by ISO.

Two conclusions were quickly reached by the committee. First, the task of communication across the local network is sufficiently complex that it needs to be broken up into more manageable subtasks.

Second, no single technical approach will satisfy all requirements. The second conclusion was reached reluctantly when it became apparent that no single standard would satisfy all committee participants. There was support for various topologies, access methods, and transmission media. The response of the committee was to standardize all serious proposals rather than to attempt to settle on just one.

The work of the IEEE 802 committee is currently organized into the following working groups:

  • 802.1 Higher Layer LAN Protocols Working Group: Chartered to concern itself with and develop standards and recommended practices in the following areas: 802 LAN/MAN architecture; internetworking among 802 LANs, MANs, and other wide area networks; 802 overall network management; and protocol layers above the MAC and LLC layers.

  • 802.2 Logical Link Control (LLC) Working Group: Currently inactive.

  • 802.3 Ethernet Working Group: Develops standards for CSMA/CD (Ethernet) based LANs.

  • 802.4 Token Bus Working Group: Develops standards for token bus LANs. Currently inactive.

  • 802.5 Token Ring Working Group: Develops standards for token ring LANs.

  • 802.6 Metropolitan Area Network Working Group: Develops standards for MANs. Currently inactive.

  • 802.7 Broadband TAG: Technical advisory group that developed a recommended practice, IEEE Std 802.7 - 1989, IEEE Recommended Practices for Broadband Local Area Networks (Reaffirmed 1997). This group is inactive with no ongoing projects. The maintenance effort for IEEE Std 802.7 - 1989 is supported by 802.14.

  • 802.8 Fiber Optic TAG: Develops recommended practices for fiber optics.

  • 802.9 Isochronous LAN Working Group: Develops standards for isochronous LANs.

  • 802.10 Security Working Group: Develops standards for interoperable LAN/MAN security.

  • 802.11 Wireless LAN Working Group: Develops standards for wireless LANs.

  • 802.12 Demand Priority Working Group: Develops standards for demand priority LANs (called 100VG-AnyLAN; this type of LAN is no longer used).

  • 802.13: Not used.

  • 802.14 Cable Modem Working Group: Chartered to create standards for data transport over traditional cable TV networks. The reference architecture specifies a hybrid fiber/coax plant with an 80 km radius from the head end. The primary thrust of the network protocol in design is to transport IEEE 802.2 LLC traffic types (exemplified by Ethernet). However, there is a strong feeling within the group that the network should also support ATM networking to carry various types of multimedia traffic.

  • 802.15 Wireless Personal Area Networks Working Group: Develops personal area network standards for short-distance wireless networks.

  • 802.16 Broadband Wireless Access Working Group: Develops standards for broadband wireless access.

  • 802.17 Resilient Packet Ring Working Group: The standard will define a very-high-speed network protocol that is optimized for packet transmission in resilient optical fiber ring topologies.

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