The Short Range and High Speed of Wireless AD
The wireless spectrum used to look like a country road, but these days it looks more like big city traffic. So many wireless devices talk back and forth to each other now that they’re saturating the airwaves. It’s device gridlock—rush hour. That’s why the FCC is opening new wireless spectrums. The latest Wi-Fi technology is wireless AD, otherwise known as 802.11ad. AD’s slightly different to the Wi-Fi technologies that have gone before it, though. Why?
Firstly, AD’s not really new. It’s been around for a while. But no one’s been able to adapt it well for consumer use to this point because of the characteristics of the 60GHz wireless range it sits in. There are huge chunks of spectrum available in that 60GHz range, allowing for many more concurrent users and data streams. There’s plenty of bandwidth to go around.
The Wall Problem
There’s a reason that spectrum is available, though, and it has to do with the way radio waves propagate.
As the waves go up in frequency, they’re more affected by passing through material.AM radio contrasts with visible light to form the most obvious example of this. AM radio is low-frequency and transmits extremely far, while visible light is a much higher-frequency wave blocked by most solid surfaces.
Frequencies in the 60GHz range are high enough that they’re actually affected by oxygen, though not majorly. For that reason, they’ve traditionally seen more application outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Walls, doors and other solid surfaces affect these frequencies far more than other network frequencies.
802.11ad routers are mostly designed to do one thing really well: extremely fast short-range wireless communication. If you have a hub set up with 802.11ad, it permits sizzling video playback or download speeds, and might eventually allow for wireless remote storage with the speed of wired on-board storage. Wireless AD’s speed allows for cloud sync and media playback in basically real time, with no need for compression.
The current king of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac, supports 1.3Gbps of throughput. 802.11ad supports up to 4.6Gbps, which is a massive boost.
Wireless AD also has another distinct advantage over other Wi-Fi technologies: it requires less power. When you can stay in range of the 802.11ad receiver with a device that supports the standard, it uses less battery power for the same bitrate.
Wireless AD zones are short range and constrained by solid surfaces. But within those small zones, amazing things can happen. For example, putting a system in a conference room or living room would help improve both speed and power efficiency for local connections. Ideally, it would function as a sort of interstate highway for network traffic: when a device came in range of the Wireless AD router, it would seamlessly switch from the original network (802.11n, ab or ac) to the hyper-local and hyper-fast AD.
Where Wireless AD is Headed
There are other applications for 802.11ad, too—mainly revolving around commercial use in urban areas transferring signal between buildings. Commercial networking companies use it for longer-distance communications, with enough power and a narrow enough transmission band. For most people, though, this wireless technology is going to be short-range.
Wireless AD, or 802.11ad, is a blazing fast network technology that will make a big impact on the industry in the next couple of years.
With this primer, hopefully you’re a little more informed about the pros and cons of this Wi-Fi solution. Here at Petra, we’re trying to keep you ahead of the tech curve. Keep following the Petra Blog to stay in touch with the latest trends.
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