IEEE 802.11r


IEEE 802.11r, also known as Fast Basic Service Set (BSS) Transition, is a wireless networking standard established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The protocol is designed for fast and seamless roaming between access points in an 802.11 Wi-Fi network. This enables mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops to maintain a consistent connection during movement, improving overall performance and user experience.


The phonetics for the keyword IEEE 802.11r is “eye-triple-e eight-zero-two-dot-eleven-are”.

Key Takeaways

  1. IEEE 802.11r, also known as Fast Basic Service Set (BSS) Transition, is a wireless protocol amendment that improves the roaming experience and latency for mobile and voice-over-Wi-Fi devices, by minimizing the time it takes for client devices to transition from one access point to another.
  2. This standard implements Fast Secure Roaming, using Fast Transition (FT) methods, which allows MIH (Media Independent Handover) for seamless and uninterrupted transitions. This maintains a secure connection between clients and access points during the handover process.
  3. IEEE 802.11r is useful for applications that require low latency and uninterrupted connectivity like Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) or video streaming, and is compatible with other 802.11 device standards, making it a critical improvement for enterprise Wi-Fi networks, healthcare facilities, and public venues.


IEEE 802.11r, also known as Fast BSS Transition (FT), is an important technology term as it addresses one of the key challenges faced in wireless networking – seamless and quick transition between access points while maintaining a secure and consistent connection.

As users move through a Wi-Fi environment with multiple access points, it becomes essential to switch between these points without impacting the user’s experience.

IEEE 802.11r improves this roaming process by reducing the time taken for re-authentication, allowing devices to maintain a continuous and smooth connection to the network even in high mobility situations.

This promotes better performance for real-time applications such as voice and video calls, ensuring a more reliable and efficient wireless network experience.


IEEE 802.11r, also known as Fast Basic Service Set (BSS) Transition or Fast Roaming, was created to provide seamless transitions between Wi-Fi access points for clients in a wireless environment. This technology serves to enhance the stability and performance of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls, video conferencing, and other latency-sensitive applications where a seamless connection is crucial.

In environments such as offices, hospitals, or large commercial spaces, where multiple Wi-Fi access points are deployed to cover the entire area, seamless roaming ensures that users can move around without losing their connection or experiencing a degradation in performance. To achieve this seamless transition, IEEE 802.11r modifies the reassociation and authentication process for Wi-Fi clients allowing them to move from one access point to another without disrupting ongoing communication.

This is achieved by pre-authentication on neighboring access points within the network, reducing the time a client spends connecting to a new access point, thus providing a smoother experience. By utilizing IEEE 802.11r, businesses and organizations are able to maintain a high level of connectivity and reliability for their wireless services, providing a more efficient and enjoyable experience for the end user.

Examples of IEEE 802.11r

IEEE11r, also known as Fast Basic Service Set (BSS) Transition or Fast BSS, is a technology that enables seamless and fast transitions between wireless access points within a network. This is particularly useful for devices that frequently move around a Wi-Fi network, such as smartphones, laptops, and IoT devices, and for applications that are sensitive to disconnections or require low latency.

Corporate offices: In large office buildings, employees often need to move throughout the facility for meetings, collaboration, and other tasks, requiring a reliable and quick Wi-Fi connection. IEEE11r technology enables their devices to switch quickly and seamlessly between various access points, minimizing disruptions to their work or data being transmitted.

Industrial and manufacturing facilities: Many industrial settings involve the use of wireless sensors, RFID tags, or other IoT devices to monitor and control equipment. Fast BSS transitions are essential to maintaining real-time connectivity and data accuracy as these devices move throughout the facility. With IEEE11r, these devices can maintain their connections to wireless access points, ensuring the efficient and safe operation of the facility.

Healthcare institutions: Hospitals, clinical labs, and other healthcare facilities rely heavily on Wi-Fi-enabled medical devices to monitor patient health, provide remote consultation, and coordinate the workflow of medical professionals. Fast BSS transitions enabled by IEEE11r technology help maintain continuous and reliable wireless connectivity, reducing the chances of disconnection or latency issues interfering with patient care and medical monitoring.

FAQ: IEEE 802.11r

What is IEEE 802.11r?

IEEE 802.11r, also known as Fast Basic Service Set (BSS) Transition, is a wireless network protocol standard that allows devices to maintain a persistent connection while transitioning between Access Points (APs) within the same network. This standard was developed to enhance the mobility experience of users on wireless networks by minimizing the time it takes to reauthenticate and reconnect to a new AP, resulting in a smoother handoff process.

Why is IEEE 802.11r important in wireless networks?

IEEE 802.11r is essential for applications that require a consistent and stable connection while moving across different access points on a wireless network. With 802.11r, client devices can roam seamlessly within a network, maintaining their sessions without experiencing disconnections or dropouts during the handoff process. This is particularly important for real-time applications such as VoIP, video conferencing, and online gaming, which demand an uninterrupted network connection for optimal performance.

How does IEEE 802.11r work?

IEEE 802.11r introduces a concept called Fast BSS Transition (FT), which significantly reduces the time required for a client device to roam between APs. FT works by pre-authenticating the client device with other APs in the network before it roams. This process eliminates the need for the device to perform a full authentication when it switches to a new AP, allowing it to maintain its connection without any disruption. Additionally, 802.11r uses a centralized controller, such as a wireless LAN controller (WLC), to effectively manage and streamline the roaming process.

What devices support IEEE 802.11r?

Most modern wireless devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets, now support the IEEE 802.11r standard. However, for 802.11r to work effectively, both the client device and the Access Points (APs) in the network must support the protocol. Network administrators can check the specifications of their APs and the devices they support to ensure compatibility with 802.11r. Additionally, many APs offer configuration options that enable support for the 802.11r standard, which need to be enabled for fast roaming to work.

Are there any security concerns with IEEE 802.11r?

IEEE 802.11r was designed with security in mind, as it was developed to work seamlessly with the robust security features of modern wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2. However, in 2018, a vulnerability known as the Fast BSS Transition (FT) handshake issue was discovered, which could potentially allow an attacker to intercept and decrypt traffic on a network using 802.11r. This issue was addressed and patched swiftly, and the current 802.11r implementations are considered secure. Network administrators using 802.11r should apply security patches and stay updated with the latest standards, ensuring a secure environment for their wireless networks.

Related Technology Terms


  • Fast BSS Transition (FT)
  • Wireless Access Point (AP)
  • Radio Resource Management (RRM)
  • Mobile Stations (MS)
  • Key Management Protocol (KMP)


Sources for More Information


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