Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A1: Version 1.1
A2: This document is a work in progress and as such the reader is required to seek out the latest version. The archive for the IEEE P802.15 WPAN FAQ is at the ViA, Inc. anonymous ftp site click here.
A3: IEEE stands for The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. IEEE is a not-for-profit association and has more than 330,000 individual members in 150 countries. Through its technical publishing, conferences and consensus-based standards activities, the IEEE:
A4: The IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee has the basic charter to create, maintain, and encourage the use of IEEE/ANSI and equivalent IEC/ISO JTC 1 standards primarily within layers 1 and 2 of the OSI (Open System Interconnection) Reference Model. The committee was formed in February 1980 and met at least three times per year as a Plenary body ever since that time. An explicit objective since inception has been the goal of establishing international standards in JTC 1. The IEEE series of standards are known as IEEE 802.xxx and the JTC 1 series of equivalent standards are known as ISO 8802-nnn. In the P802 context "local" means campus and "metropolitan" means intracity.
A5: The project name for the IEEE P802.11 Working Group for Wireless Local Area Networks.
A6: WPAN stands for Wireless Personal Area Networks. The WPAN Study Group (SG) was formed on March 12, 1998 by the IEEE 802.11 Working Group to investigate the need for a supplemental wireless network standard specifically targeted to provide very low power consumption, low complexity, wireless connectivity among devices within or entering a Personal Operating Space (POS). This includes devices that are carried, worn, or located near the body. On March 11, 1999 the Study Group was formed into a Working Group of IEEE 802 LMSC and given the designation P802.15.
A7: The 802.15 WPAN Working Group was formed on Thursday, March 11, 1999 in Austin, TX USA during the IEEE 802 LMSC Plenary Meeting. The Project Authorization Request title states: [STANDARD FOR Telecommunications and Information Exchange Between Systems - LAN/MAN Specific Requirements - Part 15: Wireless Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) specifications for Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN)] Its purpose is to define a standard for wireless communication within a POS.
A8: A Personal Operating Space (POS) is the space about a person that typically extends up to 10 meters in all directions and envelops the person whether stationary or in motion.
A9: Scope of Proposed Project: [To define PHY and MAC specifications for wireless connectivity with fixed, portable and moving devices within or entering a Personal Operating Space (POS). A goal of the WPAN Group will be to achieve a level of interoperability which could allow the transfer of data between a WPAN device and an 802.11 device.
A10: Purpose of Project: [To provide a standard for low complexity, low power consumption wireless connectivity to support interoperability among devices within or entering the Personal Operating Space (POS). This includes devices (see PAR) that are carried, worn, or located near the body. The project will address Quality of Service to support a variety of traffic classes.]
A11: There is currently an unfilled market need for a means of networking devices within the POS where power consumption, cost, and size optimization constraints prohibit the use of currently available standardized solutions. We are reviewing both IEEE derivative Standards as well as Industry Specifications that could be incorporated into the IEEE 802 Protocol Suite.
A12: The primary 802.11 design criteria are different from those of the WPAN. The WPAN functional requirements are simpler, yet there is a much greater concern over power consumption, size, and realizable product cost. This is due to the WPAN focus on the requirements of wearable computing and peripherals.
A13: The IEEE 802.15 WPAN Working Group is doing their work in an accredited Standards Development Organization both the HomeRF Working Group and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group are informal consortia-based groups defining wireless networks. HomeRF could be characterized as a "trimmed down 802.11". Bluetooth is a newer addition to the wireless space, and comes closer to satisfying WPAN requirements. In both cases, we will actively solicit candidate technologies to meet our Functional Requirements (in process) and then draft a standard and recommend it to IEEE 802 and the IEEE SAB for accreditation.
A14: A broad range of wireless industry leaders, academic researchers, semiconductor manufacturers, system integrators and end users. Individuals from more than 50 companies have thus far participated in development of the Project Authorization Request (PAR) including individuals from 3Com, Aironet, Amerisys, AMP, Boeing, Broadband Access Systems, Inc., Butterfly Communications, Inc. (TI), Carnegie Mellon, Clarion, Commcepts, Compaq/DEC, FedEx, GTE, Harris, H-P, Informed Technology, Inc., Intermec/Norand, Kodak, Lace, Lucent, McDonnell Douglas, Micrilor, MIT Media Lab, Motorola, Netwave, PED Inc., Raytheon, Sanders, Symbol, TI, Unisys, ViA, Walt Disney, Xetron, etc.
A15: Yes, the increasing adoption of wearable and handheld computing and communicating devices, and the proliferation of peripheral devices for them, has made clear the need to provide wireless connectivity. Examples of applications include Collaborative Maintenance, Mobile Worker, Medical Sensing, Data Synchronization, etc. The Working Group desires to produce a standard that is market based. We will try to use existing or emerging WPAN technology whenever possible. The key is an accredited standard based on market demand.
A16: The Working Group will continue to investigate the issues of interoperability and co-existence. A goal of the WPAN Working Group will be to achieve a level of interoperability (see WPAN PAR) sufficient to transfer data between a WPAN device and 802.11. We also are investigating the emerging Bluetooth and HomeRF specifications.
A17: Yes, multiple companies have demonstrated WPAN implementations using current technology.
A18: The Working Group estimates that an unapproved draft specification can be ready for approval by the IEEE 802 LMSC in the Fall of 1999 and an approved draft specification can be ready for approval by the IEEE SAB in the Fall of 2000 and product available shortly thereafter.
The WPAN Working Group would like to thank the IEEE 802 LMSC and 802.11 Working Group for their ongoing support. Additionally, we have received numerous liaisons e.g., HomeRF Working Group and Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Finally, the Working Group would like to publicly thank our ex Chairman Richard C. Braley from FedEx for his leadership and inspiration; he is always welcome at our meetings - may they always be short and to the point.
Last Update: May 27, 1999
This page is maintained by Rick Alfvin. Comments are welcome.