About 802.11 and How To Participate


IEEE 802.11 is the working group for wireless local area networking standards. The working group is a part of the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC) previously called IEEE Project 802. The IEEE 802 LMSC reports to the Standards Activity Board (SAB) of the IEEE Computer Society. A separate part of the IEEE, the IEEE Standards Association (SA), governs all standards development within the IEEE.

The 802.11 working group maintains and enhances part 11 of the IEEE 802 set of technical standards. The formal title of our work product is

IEEE Standard for Information Technology—
Telecommunications and Information Exchange between Systems
Local and Metropolitan Area Networks—
Specific Requirements
Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications

It comprises a base standard, e.g., IEEE Std 802.11-2020, and a number of amendments, e.g., IEEE Std 802.11ax-2021. We maintain the base standard through a revision project (e.g., P802.11REVme) and provide enhancements through amendment projects (e.g., P802.11bn).

The following are general statements on how we operate and on how you might participate in the IEEE 802.11 working group. For the official rules, see our operations manual and the documents listed here.

The standards development process

The IEEE SA provides a useful overview on how we develop standards. A short summary on how 802.11 specifically develops a standard follows below.

Before a standard can be developed or modified, a Project Authorization Request (PAR) has to be approved by the IEEE Standards Association Board (SASB). The PARs approved for 802.11 are listed here. Since 802.11 only works on one standard, all our PARs (except the first) are for either a revision of the standard (maintenance) or an amendment to the standard.

With a PAR's approval, a task group is created to develop a draft standard. In 802.11 the task groups are named for the project they are working on. For example, the project that ammends the 802.11 standard for "Ultra High Reliabilty" is P802.11bn and the associated task group is TGbn.

The task group for an amendment will spend some time developing material for an initial draft. The process the task group uses to develop this initial draft is task group dependent. For smaller projects, the task group may vote in proposed draft text from individual members. For larger projects or task groups with a large number of participants, the process may involve voting on indivdual features and then developing draft text once the feature set is decided.

The task group for a revision of the standard starts with the base standard as its initial draft and then roles in published amendments. Through the balloting process or through motions brought up during discussion, the task group may also make (typcially small) changes to the standard. The primary objective is maintenance; rolling in amendments, fixing bugs, correcting ambiguities, improving descriptions.

Once the task group has an initial draft of the amendment or revision, the draft proceeds through a series of working group letter ballots (a "letter ballot series"). The letter ballots essentially ask the working group members if the draft is ready for the next phase; IEEE Standards Association ballot (SA ballot). Members vote on the question and provide comments on the draft. This iterative approach builds consensus within the working group and improves the quality of the draft standard.

Once the draft standard has achieved sufficient consensus within the working group, a final motion (vote) is run to approve forwarding the draft for SA ballot. With WG approval, the draft is forwarded to the IEEE 802 LMSC for their approval and then to the IEEE SASB for final approval.

In the mean time, a balloting group is formed from IEEE SA members (and others) that have expressed an interest in the standard. With approval, the IEEE SA balloting proceeds in a similar fashion to WG letter ballots; members of the ballot group vote and providing comments on the draft standard. During this process the task group operates as the SA ballot comment resolution group (CRG) and resolves the comments with or without changes to the draft standard.

The draft standard is ready for final approval once it has achieved at least a 75% approval rate and met various other critria (e.g., no new Disapprove votes on changed portions of the draft). The 802.11 working group then approves forwarding the draft to the IEEE 802 LMSC and IEEE SASB for approval. With approval from IEEE 802 and final approval from the IEEE SASB, the draft becomes a standard and is published.

Session and meeting schedule

The standards activity meetings of the IEEE are open meetings. Anybody can participate provided they pay a designated fee that offsets the costs of the meeting. A participant is not required to be a member of IEEE, however, we recommend that you become a member of either the IEEE or of the Computer Society.

The 802.11 working group conducts much of its business at week-long sessions held 6 times a year. Three of these sessions are plenary sessions organized by IEEE 802 and the other three are interim sessions (held between plenary sessions) organized by the IEEE 802 Wireless Chairs Standing Committee (representing 802.11, 802.15, 802.18, 802.19 and 802.24). The schedule for future sessions is available here. Attending a session requires registration and the payment of a registration fee.

Between sessions, 802.11 subgroups hold teleconference meetings. The teleconference schedule and information on participating in these meetings is available here. There is no fee for attending a teleconference meeting that is not part of a session.


Voting is a critical part of how we operate; it is the means by which we as a group make decisions. Voting here specifically means voting on motions. We often run strawpolls to gather information (e.g., gauge support for a topic), but these are not binding on the group's direction.

At working group and task group meetings, participation in the discussions and voting is limited to the voting members, although the chair has the discretion to allow (and usually does allow) non-voting members to participate in the discussions. At other subgroup (study group, topic of interest group, standing committee, ad-hoc group) meetings, however, all attendees can participate in discussions and in voting.

Working group membership

Membership belongs to an individual, not to an organization, and may not be transferred.

An individual gains membership by attending 802.11 sessions. A member's path to voter status progresses through the following steps:

The member has qualifying attendance at one session.
The member has qualifying attendance at two sessions (at least one of which is a plenary session). The member can vote at the next plenary session and will become a Voter with attendance at that plenary session.
The member can vote.

A qualifying attendance means registering attendance in at least 75% of the "normal" meeting slots for a session. The "normal" meeting slots are designated as such by the WG Chair, but are usually the meeting slots during normal business hours for the timezone in which the meeting is held.

A voting member maintains their status by attending at least 2 of the last 4 plenary sessions (one interim may be substituted for a plenary) and by returning a ballot (voting) in 2 of the last 3 letter ballot series where the member is in the voting pool. A ballot series is the initial WG ballot and its recirculation ballots. An initial ballot that fails (gets < 75% approval) is its own ballot series. A member is in the voting pool if the member is a Voter at the start of the initial WG ballot. Returning a ballot means voting on a ballot where the vote is not a Disapprove vote without comments or an Abstain vote with a reason other than lack of technical expertise (these are considered invalid votes).

WG ballots

The WG balloting process is the means by which we build consensus and improve the quality of our draft standards.

Before a task group begins the WG balloting process it may submit the draft for comment collection. This is an informal process where the task group seeks working group feedback on the draft. It is informal in the sense that there is no requirement to respond to all the comments. The purpose is simply to identify areas that need further work.

A draft standard must successfully pass WG ballot before it is forwarded to the IEEE 802 LMSC for approval.

The ballot process begins with an initial ballot. The voting pool is established at this time and consist of the voting membership of 802.11 at the time the initial ballot is started. The voting pool remains constant for the duration of the ballot series. The entire draft is open to comment during the initial ballot. An initial ballot must pass with greater than 75% approval (and meet other criteria) before it proceeds to recircuation ballot. A draft might require more than one initial ballot before it reaches this threshold.

With recirculation ballots the objective is to iteratively narrow the scope of the changes being made. Valid comments are limited to those that identify problems with text that has changed or is affected by text that is changed. The task group may (at its descretion) address out of scope comments, but the primary objective here is to covert as many Disapprove votes to Approve votes as possible by addressing the comments associated with those Disapprove votes. It is typically not possible to covert all Disapprove votes to Approve votes.

Document distribution

All documents submitted to and produced by the 802.11 working group (excluding draft standards and some members-only liaisons) are available on a document server known as "mentor" (from its server name). Documents on mentor are available to the public. On becoming an Aspirant member, you may apply for write access (to upload documents) by selecting the Join group link.

Member submissions must follow our formatting rules. All submissions must be uploaded to mentor before presentation.

Draft standards and other members-only information is available to members in the members area. This area is password protected and accessed using the WG credentials. You will receive the WG credentials from the WG Chair by email on becoming an Aspirant member.