What is IEEE 802.11p?

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- everything RF

Sep 22, 2020

IEEE 802.11p is an amendment of the IEEE 802.11 standard to include Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE). It is the IEEE standard used by Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) applications in the 5.9 GHz (5.85-5.925 GHz) band. Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) is a wireless technology that allows vehicles to communicate with their immediate surroundings such as other vehicles (V2V), roadside infrastructure such as toll collection (V2I), pedestrians (V2P), etc.

As more vehicle manufacturers start to develop V2X Solutions, it is important to have a global standard that allows smart cars and autonomous vehicles to interface with each other (even if they are made by different companies) and the surrounding infrastructure. The 802.11p standard has been created for this. 

A fast and stable channel for communication is critical for developing smart and autonomous vehicles on the road as a failure in communication can lead to undesirable outcomes. For instance, if there is a communication failure between a vehicle and the nearby traffic signal, it can lead to a road accident that can be fatal. This is a prime example of why there is the need for a V2X communication standard which allows multiple nodes to communicate reliably with each other.

V2X communication not only requires a reliable connection, but it also needs to be fast. The communication link between vehicles and roadside infrastructure will mainly exist for short intervals of time, which means there will not be enough time to perform usual authentication procedures. To tackle this challenge, 802.11p defines a method that enables the exchange of data between nodes without establishing a basic service set (BSS). 802.11p-enabled stations use wildcard BSSID (a value of all 1s) in the header of the frames they communicate and can start exchanging data frames when they arrive in the communication channel.

As we are constantly moving towards smarter and intelligent vehicles, providing a fast and reliable communication link is very important in V2X, not only for increased convenience but also from the safety point of view. Failure to communicate important information can be fatal in high speed vehicle movement. 802.11p aims to provide that and has become an international standard for wireless access in vehicular environments.

802.11p is also the basis for U.S. Department of Transportation’s dedicated short-range communications (DSRC).

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