Standards in Wireless Technology
In order for any kind of technology to be effective, several entities must perform at different levels to bring it to a more evolved and usable state. Before anything, specifications and standards must be conceived then developed and finally implemented. As it relates to wireless networking, most standards today a based on infrastructure, software and hardware related issues. These standards are designed and maintained by various organizations dedicated to not only the technology itself, but critical security implementations. Some of the organizations most prevalent to the wireless networking environment include the following:
Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) - A volunteer-based organization facilitated by members of various companies. These members oversee a number of working groups that focus on specific areas or wireless technology such as qualifications, engineering and marketing. Products are designed by the member companies where they undergo strict qualification procedures. The products then undergo routine testing during numerous Bluetooth sponsored events.
The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) - An organization that conducts extensive research in a broad spectrum of technologies. They developed the original 802.11 standard for wireless networks and have also been instrumental in creating various wireless security protocols such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). Because of their position in the industry, the IEEE is not required to provide any kind of certifications for their specifications.
The Wi-Fi Alliance - A global, non-profit organization composed of well over 300 member companies dedicated to the expansion and security of WLANs (wireless local area networks). Since the introduction of their certification program in 2000, more than 4,000 products have been deemed as Wi-Fi certified. The Wi-Fi Alliance is also the creator of WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), the encryption standard created as a solution to the vulnerabilities in WEP.
WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) Forum - This organization offers a comprehensive interoperability testing and certification program that focuses on hardware testing, content verification and numerous guidelines to aid developers in delivering interoperable WAP applications and services.
WECA (Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance) - An organization that aims to declare the interoperability of wireless products based on the 802.11b specification. They are responsible for certifying these products as Wi-Fi compatible and endorsing Wi-Fi as the standard for wireless LANs across all segments of the industry.
Other prominent organizations that contribute to the cause of wireless technology include the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and the Wireless DSL Consortium. These institutions along with many more entities have developed standards that directly impact the wireless industry, though all are not specific to wireless communications. For instance, XML (Extensible Markup Language) and various web service standards have become increasingly important in the creation and deployment of server and desktop management and are also equally applicable in wireless applications. Many new organizations are currently being formed to address specific issues relating to wireless technology in the field of mobile E-commerce.
The proliferation of multiple wireless networking standards offers many great possibilities as well as dilemmas. The key to succeeding with all of them is to implement solid internal and external support for your user community along with continuous education to keep the network flourishing.