Tags: Samsung | Wi-Fi | Wilocity

Samsung's Screaming Fast 60GHz Wi-Fi

By Monday, 13 October 2014 04:24 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the world of communications, the higher the frequency — the shorter the wavelength  — of a radio or other electromagnetic wave, the more information you can cram into a signal, provided that you have a way to modulate the waves.

We can see this in the case of Wi-Fi, the world’s most popular wireless local area network (WLAN) technology. The very first version of the Wi-Fi standard, 802.11-1997, ran at 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), and specified two transmission rates of 1 or 2 megabits per second (Mbit/s).

802.11b that debuted in September of 1999 also ran on the 2.4 GHz band, and had a maximum raw data rate of 11 Mbit/s.

802.11a, which appeared at the same time as 802.11b, could reach 5GHz frequencies and supports up to 54 Mbit/s transmission rates.

In December 2013, the 802.11ac protocol for Wi-Fi appeared, running at 5GHz and sporting wide channel bandwidths of 20, 40 80 and 160Mhz, and supporting data stream rates ranging from 7.2 Mbit/s all the way up to 866 Mbit/s.

802.11ac was the cat’s meow as far as Wi-Fi performance was concerned, at least until today, with a startling announcement by Samsung Electronics, that inventive and marketing-savvy South Korean company perhaps best known as a perpetual thorn in the side of its American smartphone competitor, Apple.

Samsung’s 802.11ad standard takes WiFi up into the 60GHz unlicensed frequency spectrum, where the technology must contend with tiny, millimeter wavelengths.

Nevertheless, those wavelengths — along with some clever modulation schemes — enable Wi-Fi data transmission speeds of up to about 4.6 gigabits per second, which is 4,600 Mbit/s or 575 megabytes per second.

That’s over five times what has previously been achieved with Wi-Fi.

With Samsung’s Wi-Fi system — nicknamed “WiGig” — you can stream uncompressed high-definition video wirelessly in real-time to a television from any suitably equipped device — even a mobile tablet or smartphone. It’s estimated that under good conditions an entire 1 gigabyte movie can be sent between devices in less than three seconds.

Radio waves at long wavelengths can travel around the world; shorter radio wavelengths such as the millimeter fluctuations used by Samsung’s system begin to resemble light in that they travel in straight lines, bounce off of some surfaces or are easily blocked by walls, mountains, forests, and so forth.

Indeed, the basic concept of 802.11ad had been in development by various companies — such as Wilocity — since 2009 and was released and demoed in December of 2012, but the high frequencies reduced the range to just a few yards, making the technology suitable only for say, wireless docking stations.

In Samsung’s take on the technology, however, they get around these problems — and also manage to eliminate co-channel interference that would normally be generated by other devices in the wireless network — by using special “wide-coverage beam-forming antennae” and “the world’s first micro beam-forming control technology,” per a Samsung Oct. 12 press release. The electronics involved in this are able to analyze the transmission environment every 1/3000th of a second and change the system parameters on-the-fly to maintain an optimum communications session.

Samsung expects to deploy their 60GHz Wi-Fi technology starting in 2015, in a range of products including audio-visual equipment, medical devices and of course consumer communications equipment.

Samsung's release concludes with the statement, “The technology will also be integral to developments relevant to the Samsung Smart Home and other initiatives related to the Internet of Things.”

Even so, other super Wi-Fi technologies are coming down the pike, such as 802.11ah and 802.11aj — both to appear in 2016 — and 802.11ax, to appear in 2019.

Richard Grigonis is an internationally known technology editor and writer. He was executive editor of Technology Management Corporation’s IP Communications Group of magazines from 2006 to 2009. The author of five books on computers and telecom, including the highly influential Computer Telephony Encyclopedia (2000), he was the chief technical editor of Harry Newton's Computer Telephony magazine (later retitled Communications Convergence after its acquisition by Miller Freeman/CMP Media) from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. Read more reports from Richard Grigonis — Click Here Now.

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Monday, 13 October 2014 04:24 PM
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