• I received my copy of the IEEE 802.11 Handbook 2nd edition on April 1st, 2005. All experienced Wi-Fi professionals should have this book and those new to Wi-Fi should learn the basics elsewhere.

    What follows is a comparison of the two editions.

    The same two authors are credited with authoring both editions. Both have significant IEEE 802.11 standards committee histories and business involvements. The authors dedicated the 1st edition to their parents and the 2nd to their wives. Times change.

    The 2nd has twice as many pages, and is twice as thick. It is an extra inch wide and tall but with a larger font that results in the same amount of information on each page. Thus the content looks to have doubled.

    All the old chapters are carried forward with nominal changes. The 2nd has a very modest glossary and a decent index; the 1st had neither.

    New chapters in the 2nd include 802.11i, 802.11e, 802.11h, 802.11d, 802.11F, 802.11j, 802.11g, and 802.11n, in that order but mingled with the old chapters. The entirely new chapters are 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15.

    Virtually all the graphics of the 1st are carried forward in the 2nd and most became grainier. Most typos and awkward English in the 1st are corrected in the 2nd.

    Someone formatting the 2nd went overboard globally replacing words and phrases with acronyms or abbreviations. For example all instances of "station" became "STA" regardless of context.

    Most other changes are additional paragraphs or additional sentences added to existing paragraphs. Rarely is a sentence modified. Here are the 2nd edition pages that have changes in the chapters carried over from the 1st: 5, 14, 26, 27, 33-34, 40, 52-55, 57, 60-72, 74-86, 89, 92-93, 223, 225-226, 228, 239-240, 258-260, 267, 271, 273, 275-284, 289-290, 344-347. If you have a 1st edition you can match the paragraphs up with the 2nd edition and the new material will jump off the page.

    The result is a mix of voices from 1999 and 2005. Understanding this makes it easier to forgive a leftover remark from 1999 that would be a glaring mistake if penned in 2005.

    The Handbook is seldom technically wrong. The 1st edition introduced language not found in the IEEE 802.11 standard that can both help and hinder accurate understanding of the technology. None of this was improved on in the 2nd edition.

    The 1st edition was my only 802.11 resource for several years. When I began reading the IEEE 802.11 document and its amendments I had to stop reading the Handbook in order to not confuse the two. Perhaps one day I can write about what I would wish to see changed in a third edition.

    I found the 2nd edition new chapters to be very informative and alone worth the price of the book. So enjoy -- but be careful.

    I hope this helps. /criss

  • Hey Criss,

    Are there any books that are good on WiMAX. I know this is 802.11 But .16 is going to be a nice adtion to the bridge connections..



  • Criss, thanks for the review of the book. I just bought mine and look forward to reading the new material in the 2nd edition.

  • By (Deleted User)

    A pretty good WiMax read by Daniel Sweeney:
    WiMax Operator's Manual
    Building 802.16 Wireless Networks

  • By (Deleted User)

    Criss et al,

    I found a typo in the 802.11 Handbook, 2nd Edition. There currently is no errata sheet but the typo was confirmed by my coworker, Bob O'Hara, who is also one of the book's co-authors. Here's the typo so you can correct your copy:

    On page 84, in the "ERP Information Information Element" section, the fourth sentence states:

    Bit 0 of the field indicates that a non-ERP (i.e., IEEE 802.11g) STA is present in the BSS.

    This should say "IEEE 802.11b" in parentheses. ERP STAs are .11g; non-ERP STAs are .11b stations.


  • Hi Joel:

    The IEEE has defined NonERP thus: nonextended rate PHY conforming to Clause 15 or Clause 18, but not to Clause 19. Thus it would be inaccurate to put "802.11b" (the amendment that introduced Clause 19) in the parentheses.

    The writer (ghostwriter?) may have intended the parentheses, although ambiguous, to expand the very unfamiliar acronym "ERP" rather than the longer term, "non-ERP" (sic).

    I hope this helps. Thanks. /criss

  • By (Deleted User)


    In my best Professor Farnsworth (Futurama) impression, let me state unequivocally, "Whaaa...?"

    I'm not sure I get what you mean. Are you saying that non-ERP STAs are not 802.11b or are you saying that the author's terminology doesn't comply with what IEEE says a NonERP station is? 802.11b stations are not ERP STAs, right?

    Please elaborate.


  • I think Criss 's first paragraph mentions not ony 802.11b but also 802.11 ( 1 & 2 Mbps ) to be non-ERP.

    His second paragraph says the phrase "(i.e. 802.11g )" is for the previous ERP instead of the whole "non-ERP".

    Do I understand you correctly, Criss ? :)


  • Gentlemen:

    Sorry, I was late for an important date with my wife. Let's try this again.

    In the IEEE 802.11 Handbook, 2nd Edition, page 84, in several new pages dropped into chapter 3, there is a sentence that reads (literally, including end of line hyphenation):

    "Bit 0 of the field indicates that a non-
    ERP (i.e., IEEE 802.11g) STA is present in the BSS."

    When I read this a year ago I red lined "IEEE 802.11g" and wrote in its place "DSSS or HR/DSSS." I did so because the IEEE has defined "NonERP" as follows: "NonERP -- nonextended rate PHY conforming to Clause 15 or Clause 18, but not to Clause 19."

    On closer examination however I think the Handbook 2nd edition editor meant to explain the acronym "ERP" rather than the term "nonERP".

    Although ERP and nonERP appear many times in the IEEE 802.11 standard, very few people use either. Instead the popular practice is to refer to the ERP PHY by the amendment that introduced it, 802.11g. The first edition of the Handbook predated ERP and has no mention of it. The second edition has a new chapter 14 on "IEEE 802.11g higher data rates in 2.4. GHz frequency band" but never tells us that the IEEE named this PHY "Extended Rate Physical" or ERP for short. For lack of mention in the text, "ERP" does not appear in the index.

    I have long recommended that serious students of the IEEE 802.11 standard be familiar with the names, acronyms, clause numbers, and defining documents of each PHY.

    I hope this helps. Thanks. /criss

  • By (Deleted User)

    That clarifies it much better.


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