Wikipedia states that

Monitor mode is one of the six modes that 802.11 wireless cards can operate in.

I headed over to the IEEE site and downloaded the linked IEEE 802.11™-2012 document, but I cannot find the terms Managed Mode or Monitor Mode in it.

Where are these modes described officially?

  • Did you check if the rfc uses "client mode" instead of managed and "promiscuous mode" instead of monitor? Mar 24, 2015 at 21:12
  • These aren't contained as well.
    – efie
    Mar 24, 2015 at 21:19
  • Yeah, and monitor and promiscuous aren't even the same things. After looking at several IEEE documents in the 802.11 series, I'm not sure those modes are part of it at all. The wikipedia article I found that mentions those modes references the Microsoft NDIS specs. Mar 24, 2015 at 22:36
  • It could be in any or none of these documents: msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff543822(v=vs.85).aspx Mar 24, 2015 at 22:54
  • I checked the documents listed under "IEEE 802.1 Documents", "Wi-Fi Alliance Documents", "FIPS Documents" and "IETF RFC Documents"; they don't contain these keywords. Some of the documents listed under "IEEE 802.11 Documents" I couldn't find, those I looked at do not contain them as well.
    – efie
    Apr 2, 2015 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind that while Wikipedia is good for "general" understanding, it isn't always fully accurate and is never a definitive source for anything since it is user created/maintained. The more technical or specialized the topic (which often goes along with fewer knowledgeable users), the more likely the existence of errors.

For instance, the quoted statement from Wikipedia does go on to list the "six modes" of operation but of the six modes listed, it doesn't include "promiscuous mode" which is referenced in the two or three sentences immediately preceeding the quote. So is this a seventh mode?

Additionally, none of the six listed modes references WiFi Direct, so would that provide additional "modes"?

The "six modes of operation" could be based off of terminology used in driver development. Specifically, the Microsoft miniport driver documentation lists six possible modes of operation.

It also appeas that some Linux or open source drivers reference at least "Master Mode," "Ad Hoc Mode," and/or "Monitor Mode" in some of their documentation and/or correspondence.

AFAIK, the IEEE 802.11-2012 standard only uses the "ad hoc" and "mesh" terminology that are listed as modes of operation in this Wikipeida article. However, it doesn't reference them as "modes of operation" and generally doesn't use them in the same way. For instance, the standard uses the term IBSS (or independent BSS) instead of ad hoc and defines ad hoc as:

Often used as a venacular (sic) term for an independent basic service set (IBSS)

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