The Wireless N standard barely got implemented and this year they announced two new standards that promise data rates measurable in gigabits per second. Yes you heard right, gigabits per second! This week at CES were presented two new wireless standards, 802.11ac and 802.11ad respectively. Both standards being capable of gigabit transfer speeds.
The new Wi-Fi standards will work in two different frequencies, respectively 5GHz for 802.11ac and 60GHz for 802.11ad. First one can reach data rates up to 1.3 Gbps, and the second 7 Gbps. The transfer speed will be lower than the specification, being dependent on several factors, including channel width, the number of antennas and number of streams. And the first products, which will appear somewhere in the middle of this year, will not reach maximum speed.
Both standards are still in progress, and won’t be final untill late 2013. But as usual, the vendors will deliver products that track the current standards closely. Any change made to the standards by the IEEE is expected to be minor, and software updates will bring products up-to-date.
How do the new specifications get to such speeds? The 802.11ac standard reaches such transfer speeds by improving a number of technologies introduced with 802.11n. It uses up to 8 data streams and antennas (MIMO). This technology comes with wider bandwidth (channels), namely 80MHz and optional 160Mhz. A single data stream with 80MHz bandwidth can reach up to 433 Mbps and one with 160Mhz bandwidth, 867 Mbps. Combining three such streams (80MHz), the standard may reach 1.3 Gbps. Using all 8 data streams 802.11ac can reach almost 7 Gbps.
For the 802.11ad standard things are simpler, because it doesn’t have to implement all innovations brought to 802.11ac, as increased bandwidth and higher frequency (60GHz) makes possible data rates of up to 7 Gbps. The downside is that, due to higher frequencies, the 802.11ad standard will have lower penetration power and automatically, a lower range.
The new standards will also change the name from Wi-Fi to WiGig. This is because standards are developed and promoted by the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. WiGig specification will allow devices to communicate wirelessly with multi-gigabit speeds. WiGig devices will operate in 2.4, 5 and 60GHz bands and will reach speeds of up to 7 Gbps, 10 times faster than 802.11n, all while maintaining compatibility with existing Wi-Fi devices.
So it seems that the cables start to become obsolete. The new technology allows wireless streaming of HD audio and video smoothly and without delay. This will lead to the emergence of new devices such as wireless high-fidelity audio systems, but will also facilitate existing technologies like WiDi.
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