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Wi-Fi (WLAN, IEEE 802.11)

Wi-Fi, or IEEE 802.11, is the standard for wireless LANs, or WLANs. The abbreviation Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity, and resembles the Hi-Fi acronym. It represents a whole collection of protocols within the same family of Ethernet and Token Ring.

It is specified by [ various IEEE 802.11 specifications].

The 802.11 protocols specify a wireless shared network, which means that the maximum bandwidth is only available to one user at a time.

  • 802.11 (2MBit/s 2.4GHz) First generation of WLAN equipment; allows 1 and 2 Mbps.
  • 802.11b (11MBit/s 2.4GHz) Second generation of WLAN equipment, and the first generation to receive widespread use; allows 1, 2, 5.5 and 11 Mbps.
  • 802.11a (54MBit/s 5GHz)
  • 802.11g (54MBit/s 2.4GHz)


XXX - add a brief description of 802.11 history

Protocol dependencies

  • 802.11 is the lowest software layer, so it only depends on hardware.

Example traffic

XXX - Add example traffic here (as plain text or Ethereal screenshot).


The 802.11 dissector is fully functional.

Preference Settings

(XXX add links to preference settings affecting how 802.11 is dissected).

Example capture file

XXX - Add a simple example capture file. Keep it short, it's also a good idea to gzip it to make it even smaller, as Ethereal can open gzipped files automatically.

Display Filter

A complete list of 802.11 display filter fields can be found in the [ display filter reference]

  • Show only the 802.11-based traffic:


    Show only the 802.11-based traffic to and from 802.11 MAC address 08:00:08:15:ca:fe: 

Capture Filter

  • Capture only the 802.11-based traffic to and from 802.11 MAC address 08:00:08:15:ca:fe:

     wlan host 08:00:08:15:ca:fe 


Should most of the content be moved to the WLAN page, and only Wi-Fi described here (pointing to the WLAN page)? AFAIK, Wi-Fi is only a conformance issue, but not the protocol itself, or am I wrong here? - Ulf Lamping

As far as I can tell, WLAN is a concept and Wi-Fi refers to a given WLAN technology, namely based on the IEEE 802.11 protocol family. You'll find articles today about another technology, Wi-Max. I'd put pointers from the WLAN page to Wi-fi and to a new page Wi-Max (or WiMax). - Olivier Biot

Wi-Fi (last edited 2015-04-16 11:15:32 by EnderWiggin)