What does the x means in 802.1x and which are the differences between the 802.1X and 802.11 standards ? Can you explain to me ?

  • 4
    802.1x is an authentication mechanism. 802.11 is WiFi. Just because they're dot-one-something doesn't mean they're related.
    – Ricky
    Nov 26, 2019 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


802.1X is a standard for port-based network access control (NAC). It belongs to the IEEE 802.1 family, defining (mostly) data link layer standards (bridging).

802.11 is a standard for wireless networks with various physical layer variants, often called Wi-Fi or wireless LAN / WLAN.

802.11 commonly uses 802.1X for client authentication, but apart from that they are completely different things.

There are quite a few IEEE 802 standards around.

  • 2
    It may be useful, especially in the context of the question, to mention that IEEE802.1 standards have meaning for the use uppercase or lowercase letters in the project name. The presence of lower case letters identifies an amendment to a previous standard while the use of only uppercase letters indicate a standalone standard. So the reason that 802.1X uses the capitalization is that it is a standalone standard and can be implemented independent of other 802.1 standards (which makes it possible for non-802.1 standards such as 802.11 to easily make use of it).
    – YLearn
    Nov 26, 2019 at 19:18
  • My prof told us that 802.1X is also used for wireless. So when 802.11 is preferred over 802.1X ?
    – AleWolf
    Nov 26, 2019 at 20:15
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    No. 802.1X runs over 802.11 and authenticates stations to the access point.
    – Zac67
    Nov 26, 2019 at 20:20
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    @AleQuercia, 8021X is used by 802.11 (as well as 802.3, etc). It isn't a either/or situation, it is just that 802.11 can use 802.1X for network authentication.
    – YLearn
    Nov 26, 2019 at 20:20
  • @Zac67, I also listed a bunch of IEEE 802 standards in this answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Nov 26, 2019 at 22:00

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