Networking equipment firm TP-Link has today claimed to be the first manufacturer to launch a new broadband router (Talon AD7200) that can make use of the 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard, which is able to deliver ultra-fast speeds of up to 4.6Gbps via the 60GHz spectrum band.
The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE) officially approved the new 802.11ad standard all the way back in 2013 (here), which proposed a WiFi (WLAN) solution that could deliver speeds of up to 7Gbps (Gigabits per second) by using the unlicensed 60GHz radio spectrum band (typically 57-66GHz).
In October 2014 Samsung finally became one of the first to demonstrate a working 802.11ad prototype (here), which it claimed could eliminate co-channel interference (regardless of the number of devices using the same network) and would be commercialised in 2015.
However in the end it’s TP-Link’s Talon AD7200 Multi-band Wi-Fi Router that looks set to be one of the first to market with this new technology, which is being powered by the 802.11ad and 11ac MU-MIMO solutions from Qualcomm Atheros.
Rahul Patel, Senior VP of Qualcomm Technologies, said:
“Qualcomm is continually investing in new, innovative technologies to meet the increasing bandwidth demands resulting from overcrowded networks. We are leading the way with 802.11ac wave 2 with MU-MIMO to improve efficiency in the 2.4/5 GHz bands and now once again are bringing ground-breaking 802.11ad technology to commercial fruition. These technologies combined with the unique features of TP-LINK’s Talon AD7200 Multi-band Wi-Fi Router are designed to improve wireless networking and user experience.“
As you’d expect the router can also use the existing 2.4GHz (800Mbps) and 5GHz (1733Mbps) bands and is backwards compatible with prior standards.
Key Features – Talon AD7200:
* AD7200 Multi-band with 4-Stream technology delivers up to 7200Mbps Wi-Fi speeds over 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 60GHZ bands
* MU-MIMO technology enables Wi-Fi for every device with multi-user support
* Powerful 1.4GHz dual-core CPU to enjoy high-speed connections without interruption
* Active 60GHz adaptive beamforming enables Gigabit performance and dense deployment
* 8 x Antennas with high-powered amplifiers supercharge your Wi-Fi signal
* 4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
* 2 x USB 3.0 ports to share files etc.
* Beamforming technology to send targeted Wi-Fi signals to individual devices
* Set time limits and block websites through parental controls to keep children safe
* Guest networks provide visitors with Wi-Fi access separate from your main network
* Advanced security encryption to protect your data
* Check network status and adjust Wi-Fi settings from your mobile device (Android, iOS) using the TP-LINK Tether App
Obviously the elephant in the room here is that 60GHz band. Admittedly 60GHz affords plenty of capacity for data, yet transmissions in this spectrum also tend to suffer limited range and struggle to penetrate through any even remotely solid surfaces. Some of this can be overcome by using millimeter-wave circuit design and wide-coverage beam-forming antennas, but the laws of physics do place limitations (unless you take the ugly path of putting signal boosters in other rooms).
At the same time we shouldn’t forget that the 5GHz standard, using updates to the 802.11ac specification (example), continue to get faster and that is much better for a normal home network. On top of that very few computer networks or home broadband connections are able to fully utilise such performance.
TP-Link expects to start shipping its new kit to the USA during early 2016 and no doubt Europe will follow. TP-Link is known for producing affordable kit, although we expect that the Talon AD7200 will be anything but cheap. In any case it’s probably not a good idea to get the first run of a new technology, especially since TP-Link has a mild reputation for buggy firmware at release.