The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has released a standard for streaming multimedia data over high-speed wireless networks aimed at home and small-business users.
The 802.15.3 standard for high-rate WPans (wireless personal area networks) allows these networks to link as many as 245 wireless fixed and portable devices at data rates up to 55Mbps and at distances up to 100m.
The standard, which substantially increases the initial 1Mbps speed of WPans, comes in response to strong demand from users.
Users want to connect multiple portable devices at low cost, yet run high-bandwidth applications, such as multimedia, digital images and high-quality video. The standard also addresses user priorities such as network economy, frequency performance, power consumption and data-rate scalability.
To keep costs low, the IEEE 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 WPan standard uses the 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency band and specifies raw data rates of 11, 22, 33, 44 and 55Mbps.
Distance plays a role in transmission speed. The closer the device is to the access point, the higher the bandwidth. For instance, a device up to 50m away from an access point can transmit data at a speed of 55Mbps, while the transmission speed of a device 100m away drops to 22Mbps.
The highest rate, 55Mbps, is necessary for low-latency, multimedia connections and large-file transfers, while 11Mbps and 22Mbps rates are ideal for long-range connectivity for audio devices, the IEEE said.
Moreover, 802.15.3 offers reliable quality of service. It uses time division multiple access to allocate channel time among devices to prevent conflicts and only provides allocations for an application if enough bandwidth is available.
Fixed and portable devices in a WPan connect in an ad hoc way and communicate by peer-to-peer networking, allowing them to connect without user intervention.
The advanced encryption standard 128, approved by the US government in 2001 to replace the older data encryption standard, ensures that data is protected in the network.
The 802.15.3 standard allows networks based on this specification to coexist with other 802.15 WPans, such as Bluetooth systems, and with 802.11 WLans, especially 802.11b and 802.11g, which also operate in the 2.4 GHz band.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service