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What is IEEE and Why do They Call the Shots on Wireless?


It’s impossible to not mention the IEEE when talking about 802.11ac wireless and other wireless standards. They are the ones who declare which standard of wireless is going to be most prevalent and manufacturers and vendors use that standard in their products and solutions. While the IEEE deals in many technology industries, their authority on Wi-Fi is the most prevalent in our everyday lives. So who are the IEEE, why do they decide the standard and how do you become a member?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) was founded in 1963 and is the largest association of technical professionals in the world containing over 400,000 members. Their core purpose is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. They aim to be essential to the global technical community and to technical professionals everywhere, and be universally recognized for the contributions of technology and of technical professionals in improving global conditions.

Members include computer scientists, software developers, IT professionals, physicists and medical doctors in addition to their electronic engineering core. Although it was officially founded in 1963, the IEWE was previously known as the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers and has it’s roots deep in radio engineering, and light and power systems. The AIEE and the IRE formally joined together in 1963 forming the IEEE. Noted past members include Alexander Graham Bell and and Charles Proteus.

Why do they dictate the wireless standard?

The IEEE has what’s called the IEEE Standards Association that develops global standards in industries including power, energy, IT, telecommunication and more. The IEEE-SA has been developing standards for over a century and while its not authorized by the government, the tech community recognizes and deploys it.

For wireless, there are many more networking options than just 802.11ac and there are products that support these other options, but if there is no unity in what vendors support and produce, devices and networks would not be able to function together. The networks would be limited to the number of devices that were built to be compatible with it, which would prevent people from using their own devices, or being able to connect to any Wi-Fi network.

Because IEEE is the largest organization of scientists in the world, it only makes sense for them to be the ones to make sure the rest of us are on the most sensible and latest route for connectivity.

How do you join?

You can join the IEEE as a professional or as a student. Professional membership is open to individuals who by experience give evidence of competence in an IEEE designated field. The designated fields are: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Visit for information on joining.

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