The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE) has officially approved the new 802.11ad (802.11ad-2012 amendment) standard that will provide short-range wifi wireless networking (WLAN) speeds of up to 7Gbps (Gigabits per second) by using the unlicensed 60GHz radio spectrum band (typically 57-66GHz).
The Wireless Gigabit Alliance™ (WiGig), which recently merged with the Wi-Fi Alliance, made modifications to both the 802.11 Physical Layers (PHY) and the 802.11 Medium Access Control Layer (MAC) to enable operation in the 60GHz band via an “efficient beam forming” technology.
The 802.11ad standard is seen as a compliment to existing 2.4GHz supporting wifi hardware, which only just started to deliver speeds of over 1Gbps after the related 802.11ac standard began to squeeze more out of the 5GHz band last year. Crucially 802.11ad adds a “fast session transfer” feature, which enables wireless devices to seamlessly transition between 60GHz and the legacy 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Bruce Kraemer, Chair of the IEEE802.11 WLAN Working Group, said:
“IEEE 802.11 is undergoing a continuous process of refinement and innovation to address the evolving needs of the marketplace, and there is no better proof of that fact than IEEE 802.11ad.
By migrating up to the next ISM band (60 GHz), we break ground on new spectrum for IEEE 802.11, enable an order of magnitude improvement in performance and enable usages that have never before been possible with existing IEEE 802.11 — namely wireless docking and streaming video.”
Ali Sadri, President and Chairman of the WiGig Alliance, added:
“Our members have worked closely with IEEE on developing the standard. We are excited to say that the WiGig MAC/PHY specification is completely aligned with the published 802.11ad standard. Gaining approval from a global standardization body gives WiGig Alliance additional international recognition and moves us one step closer to widespread industry adoption.”
The primary intention of 802.11ad is to allow faster networking speeds in dense deployment environments and or ultrafast speeds in the home, which is partly achieved because 60GHz has a shorter range and thus other networks are far less likely to intercept and interfere with your connection (more secure). It will also help local wireless networking kit to keep pace with the new generation of fibre optic based fixed line broadband ISP products.
But when will we be able to buy the first kit? Several 60GHz devices are currently being demonstrated at the 2013 CES event in Las Vegas and the first commercial products should launch sometime this year (possibly Q3 or Q4 after certification of new kit). ABI Research recently forecast that, by 2016, annual shipments of devices with both Wi-Fi and WiGig technology will reach 1.8 billion.