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Samsung unwraps 802.11ad 60GHz Wi-Fi developments
Tuesday 14 October 2014 11:14:38 by Andrew Ferguson

The adoption of 802.11ac is only just getting underway, not helped by the high cost of the routers and wireless access points that support the latest commercially available standard, but one that is needed by those with 300 Mbps and faster connections. At the cutting edge Samsung has dropped the Gigabit bomb with the news that they have a 802.11ad solution that offers a five fold increase on what has previously being achieved, delivering 4.6 Gbps.

The blog and press releases are getting glowing coverage, and even promises of this faster solution coming to mobile phones in 2015, but there are numerous caveats that will have jumped out at anyone who has a physics background. While some ten times faster than the best 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi solutions the jump to 60GHz brings lots of other problems, namely that oxygen in the air is a significant attenuator of the signal, and the attenuation from most other objects means the signal is limited to same room use and even then a human or animal might block the signal.

The signal blocking sounds like an end of the story, but here is where the clever part comes from, Samsung is utilising beam forming which optimises the signal and at 60GHz antenna can be very small, this means a person walking through the beam can be dealt with. Another problem that Samsung claimed to have solved was that for the 802.11ad research to date solutions had only been able to connect single devices.

So it looks like 802.11ad will be more a solution for linking devices in your media stack, i.e. reduce the need for signal cables rather than the current wander your home or another option is to sync data between devices. We presume if this technology does get deployed in mobile phones the entire edge of a device will form the millimeter wave antenna to avoid thumbs and fingers blocking the signal. We are not so sure about the Internet of Things claims, since unless a fridge is streaming 4K resolution video of the interior to solve the question of whether the light goes off, the various heating, stock control and remote control applications actually use very little data, security and reliability being the key requirements.

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