I am trying to understand the meaning of standards, protocols and working groups. I read that the 802.11 of the IEEE organization is a working group, trying to implement some standards. I think that I have understand that, for example 802.11b is a standard and not a protocol. But what actually is 802.11? Is it a standard which consists of other sub-standards (e.g. 802.11b/n) or is it a protocol?

  • A network protocol is a set of rules for communication. Devices that follow the same protocols can communicate. – Ron Maupin Jan 16 at 21:19
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    Working groups define standards which define protocols. – Zac67 Jan 16 at 21:48

The wireless standard family IEEE 802.11 is amended by task forces consecutively numbered with letters e.g. (IEEE) 802.11n or 802.11ac. Some of those task forces define new PHY standards (or protocols if you like) like b, g, n, ac, ax. Most often these PHYs are referred to by their task force name. Of course, there are many other standards that don't define any PHY but some other aspect of Wi-fi.

802.11b/n is not a standard but some piece of hardware that is compatible to both 802.11b and 802.11n.

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