IEEE publishes standard for in-vehicle WLANs

The 802.11p spec enables WLAN connectivity at speeds of 120+ mph.

As increasing numbers of state and local municipalities outlaw texting while driving, it may soon be prudent to amend those laws to include emailing, surfing the Web, sharing files and other remote-working tasks. That's because the IEEE just published the 802.11p specs for wireless LAN access in vehicular environments.

Technically the specifications are an amendment to the 802.11 standard. As usual the official title is jaw-breaking and couldn't be texted or Tweeted because it contains so many characters. For the record, the newly published specs are named IEEE 802.11p - 2010, Standard for Information Technology - Telecommunications and Information Exchange between systems - Local and Metropolitan networks - Specific requirements - Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) specifications: Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments.

It is an enabling technology that allows 802.11 devices to be used in high-speed, rapidly changing radio environments that cars and trucks encounter on highways, the IEEE explains. when announcing the publication, the IEEE said the enhancements defined in it "deal with the extreme Doppler shifts and rapidly changing multipath conditions encountered as vehicles are communicating with each other or to the roadside at speeds of up to 200 kph. That's 124 mph for those of us speeding in the United States.

"It also defines the MAC layer changes required to satisfy the needs of entering a new communication zone and being able to quickly establish a link and exchange multiple packets of data within less than 100 ms total elapsed time from entering to exiting that zone. Further, MAC changes are designed to support other higher layer protocols that are designed for the vehicular environment, such as the set of IEEE 1609 standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments."

For those of you running out right now to purchase your in-vehicle wireless LAN equipment, please use it only when you are a passenger in the vehicle.

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