A lot of my customers are confused about the networking standards, especially the wireless ones. This post will explain in simplified detail about what the networking standards mean.
First, you must know the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is one of the many organizations that sets and defines standards. A lot of people call it “the I triple-E”. Even though the standards are set by the non-profit IEEE it does not mean the standards are patent free. Corporations are members of the IEEE and they give input into the standards. Businesses know it is in their financial interests to have standards and so they work together.
There are various committees of the IEEE. The 802 committee, which was coincidentally formed on February 1980, is responsible for all networking standards. Each committee is sub-divided into different working groups numbered in the order of creation. Some working groups were disbanded, some inactive (which means no new development but future development may occur), some are reserved for possible development, and some are still active. Each working group can define various standards which are denoted by either a letter or number. Examples: 802.15.1 is the Bluetooth standard and 802.11b is one of the many wireless networking standards.