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IEEE 1609 - Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE)

This Fact Sheet was written on Sept 25, 2009. The status of the IEEE 1609.1, 1609.2, 1609.3 and 1609.4 standards was: Trial Use Published, Draft Standards under development. Status of 1609.0 was Under Development. Status of 1609.11 was Under Development. Status of P802.11p was Active Unapproved Draft.

This Fact Sheet was written on September 25, 2009.

This Fact Sheet was last verified on September 25, 2009

 Check the ITS Standards Search to see if there has been subsequent development activity.


Provision of externally-driven services to vehicles has been limited because of the lack of ubiquitous high-speed communications between vehicles and service providers, and the lack of homogeneous communications interfaces between different automotive manufacturers. The IEEE 1609 Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) completely address the latter issue, and provide a sufficient foundation regarding the organization of management functions and modes of operation of system devices to address the former.

The WAVE standards define an architecture and a complementary, standardized set of services and interfaces that collectively enable secure vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) wireless communications. Together these standards provide the foundation for a broad range of applications in the transportation environment, including vehicle safety, automated tolling, enhanced navigation, traffic management and many others. The IEEE 1609 Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) consists of four trail use standards which have full use drafts under development and two unpublished standards under development :

  • IEEE P1609.0 Draft Standard for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) - Architecture describes the WAVE architecture and services necessary for multi-channel DSRC/WAVE devices to communicate in a mobile vehicular environment.
  • IEEE 1609.1-2006 - Trial Use Standard for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) - Resource Manager specifies the services and interfaces of the WAVE Resource Manager application.It describes the data and management services offered within the WAVE architecture . It defines command message formats and the appropriate responses to those messages, data storage formats that must be used by applications to communicate between architecture components, and status and request message formats.
  • IEEE 1609.2 -2006- Trial Use Standard for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) - Security Services for Applications and Management Messages defines secure message formats and processing. This standard also defines the circumstances for using secure message exchanges and how those messages should be processed based upon the purpose of the exchange.
  • IEEE 1609.3 -2007 - Trial Use Standard for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) - Networking Services defines network and transport layer services, including addressing and routing, in support of secure WAVE data exchange. It also defines Wave Short Messages, providing an efficient WAVE-specific alternative to IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) that can be directly supported by applications. Further, this standard defines the Management Information Base (MIB) for the WAVE protocol stack.
  • IEEE 1609.4 -2006- Trial Use Standard for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) - Multi-Channel Operations provides enhancements to the IEEE 802.11 Media Access Control (MAC) to support WAVE operations.
  • IEEE P1609.11 Over-the-Air Data Exchange Protocol for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) will define the services and secure message formats necessary to support secure electronic payments.

Additionally, the IEEE 1609 standards rely on IEEE P802.11p IEEE Draft Standard for Information Technology -Telecommunications and information exchange between systems - Local and metropolitan area networks - Specific requirements - Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) specifications Amendment 7: Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments. This proposed standard specifies the extensions to IEEE 802.11 that are necessary to provide wireless communications in a vehicular environment.

What are these standards for?

The IEEE 1609 Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) defines the architecture, communications model, management structure, security mechanisms and physical access for high speed (up to 27 Mb/s) short range (up to 1000m) low latency wireless communications in the vehicular environment. The primary architectural components defined by these standards are the On Board Unit (OBU), Road Side Unit (RSU) and WAVE interface.

These standards also define how applications that utilize WAVE will function in the WAVE environment as illustrated in IEEE 1609.0, based on the management activities defined in IEEE P1609.1, the security protocols defined in IEEE P1609.2, and the network-layer protocol defined in IEEE P1609.3. Lastly, they provide extensions to the physical channel access defined in IEEE 802.11 to support the WAVE standards in IEEE P1609.4.

Who uses them?

This family of standards should be used by transportation, automotive and traffic engineers involved with the design, specification, implementation, and testing of WAVE devices. Network engineers, hardware engineers, and application designers supporting Intellidrive (SM) will use these standards as they define the communications architecture for DSRC -based V2V and V2I interactions, and as the basis for the low-latency interface design of On-Board and Roadside devices. Intellidrive application designers may use the standards to provide the basis for interface definitions between system components, and as a framework for application architecture.

How are they used?

Collectively the IEEE 1609 Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) describes wireless data exchange, security, and service advertisement between vehicles and roadside devices, and those layers of the applicable protocols that Intellidrive applications may require access to when communicating with vehicles. They describe the physical mechanism of communication, as well as the command and management services, and provide two options (WAVE short message and IPv6) for communicating between vehicles and between vehicles and roadside devices. These standards provide the basis for the design of applications interfacing with the WAVE environment, and provide network services so that applications can be seamless without regard to specific manufacturers, including data storage access mechanisms, device management, and secure message passing.


The architecture, interfaces and messages defined in the IEEE 1609 Family of Standards for Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments (WAVE) support the operation of secure wireless communications between vehicles and infrastructure, as well as between vehicles. Applications may utilize these standards in conjunction with 5.9 GHz radio equipment to provide, for example, services to drivers, roadway operators, facility operators and maintenance personnel.

Related documents

The following ITS standards are related and should be considered when using this standard:

The following set of standards and documents, while not part of the ITS standards, should also be considered when using this standard:

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