60GHz V-Band Wireless Technology

IEEE 802.11ad

Why Consider 60GHz V-band for Wireless?

60GHz (V-Band) is now becoming a popular frequency band in wireless world, with both short-range and wider area applications ahead for the tiny beams of this unlicensed millimeter radio technology.

60GHz V-Band Wireless

The frequency — part of the V-Band frequencies — is considered among the millimeter radio (mmWave) bands. Millimeter wave radios operate using frequencies from 30GHz to 300GHz. Until recently, 60GHz has typically been used for military communications as well as some commercial applications.

Major technology vendors show growing interest in the technology and the associated patents. Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) bought Wilocity recently to combine 60GHz WiGig technology with WiFi. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) bought Alpental, a startup that, according to one of its founders, is using 60GHz to develop a “hyper scalable mmWave networking solution for dense urban nextGen 5G & WiFi.”

Why 60GHz, and why now? Here are a few reasons the market is expanding:

Drivers

WiGig:

A short-range wireless specification — using the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 802.11ad specification — that can link devices at up to 7 Gbit/s over a distance of up to 12 meters. That’s 10 times faster than the current 802.11n WiFi, though with less range. This makes the technology ideal for wirelessly delivering high-definition video in the home. The Wi-Fi Alliance has WiGig-certified products which started to arrive in 2015.

Wireless backhaul:

Particularly for small cells, operators can use the 60GHz radios to connect small cells to a fiber hub. (See More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul.)

Wireless bridges:

These are useful for providing extra capacity at events, ad-hoc networks, and private high-speed enterprise links.

Wireless Video:

Wireless video: Some startups have jumped the gun on the WiGig standard and plowed ahead with their own 60GHz video connectivity using the Sony-backed WirelessHD standard.

Point to Point, Point to Multipoint & Mesh Networks

60GHz is ideal for Point to Point (P2P, PTP) links as well as Point to Multipoint (P2MP, PTMP) and also Wireless Mesh Networks.

Why 60GHz?

A global unlicensed band exists at 57-64GHz. It is largely uncongested compared to the 2.5GHz and 5GHz public bands currently used for WiFi.

There’s also a lot of it. “The 60 GHz band boasts a wide spectrum of up to 9GHz that is typically divided into channels of roughly 2GHz each,” Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)’s LL Yang wrote in an article on the prospects for the wide-area and short-range use of the technology. Spectrum availability is “unmatched” by any of the lower-frequency bands.

The spectrum is now open and approved for use across much of the world. This includes the US, Europe, and much of Asia, including China.

As we’ve already seen, 60GHz technology is expected to offer blazing wireless transmission speeds.

Issues with 60GHz

No technology is ever perfect, right?

Transmissions at 60GHz have less range for a given transmit power than 5GHz WiFi, because of path loss as the electromagnetic wave moves through the air, and 60GHz transmissions can struggle to penetrate walls. There is also a substantial RF oxygen absorption peak in the 60GHz band, which gets more pronounced at ranges beyond 100 meters, as Agilent notes in a paper on the technology. Using a high-gain adaptive antenna array can help make up for some of these issues with using 60GHz for wider area applications.

Some vendors have also argued that there are potential advantages for the technology over omnidirectional systems. “The combined effects of O2 absorption and narrow beam spread result in high security, high frequency re-use, and low interference for 60GHz links,” one vendor notes

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60GHz Wireless: The IEEE 802.11ay standard

IEEE 802.11ad

IEEE 802.11ay is an enhancement to the current technical standards for Wi-Fi. It is the follow-up of 802.11ad adding four times the bandwidth and adding MIMO up to 4 streams. This is also known as the second WiGig standard.

802.11ay is a type of WLAN in the IEEE 802.11 set of WLANs. It will have a frequency of 60 GHz, a transmission rate of up to 40 Gbps and an extended transmission distance of 300–500 meters. It is likely to have mechanisms for channel bonding and MU-MIMO technologies. It was originally expected to be released in 2017, but has been delayed until 2019. 802.11ay will not be a new type of WLAN in the IEEE 802.11 set, but will simply be an improvement on 802.11ad.

IEEE 802.11ad

Where 802.11ad uses a maximum of 2.16 GHz bandwidth, 802.11ay bonds four of those channels together for a maximum bandwidth of 8.64 GHz. MIMO is also added with a maximum of 4 streams. The link-rate per stream is 44Gbit/s, with four streams this goes up to 176Gbit/s. Higher order modulation is also added, probably up to 256-QAM.

Applications include replacement for Ethernet and other cables within offices or homes, and provide backhaul connectivity outside for service providers.

802.11ay must not be confused with the similarly-named 802.11ax standard that was released in 2019. Although they boast similar speeds, the 802.11ay standard is designed to run at much higher frequencies below 6GHz. The lower frequency of 802.11ax enables it to penetrate walls, something that the higher frequency signals used by 11ay standard cannot do.

802.11ad channels:

ChannelCenter (GHz)Min. (GHz)Max. (GHz)BW (GHz)
158.3257.2459.402.16
260.4859.4061.56
362.6461.5663.72
464.8063.7265.88
566.9665.8868.04
669.1268.0470.20

Note: Some of these frequencies might not available for the use of IEEE 802.11ad networks around the world (reserved for other purposes or requires licenses).

Limitations of 802.11ay

Because it uses the V band of millimeter wave (mmW) frequency, the range of IEEE 802.11ay communication is rather limited (just a few meters and difficult to pass through obstacles/walls) compared to other conventional Wi-Fi systems. However, the high frequency allows it to use more bandwidth which in turn enables the transmission of data at high data rates up to multiple gigabits per second, enabling usage scenarios like transmission of uncompressed UHD video over the wireless network.

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60GHz Wireless: The IEEE 802.11ad standard

IEEE 802.11ad

IEEE802.11ad was the first 60GHz V-band Wi-Fi standard. Offering high speeds this standard takes WiFi speed to level far higher than previous WiFi standards. 802.11ad Wi-Fi is rated for data throughput up to 4,600Mbps, or four times faster than the comparable 5GHz band 802.11ac.

What is 802.11ad?

IEEE 802.11ad is an amendment to the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard, developed to provide a Multiple Gigabit Wireless System (MGWS) standard at 60 GHz frequency

CableFree 802.11ad 60GHz V-band Wireless Network

After revision, the 60 GHz band covers the frequency of 57 to 71 GHz . The frequency band is subdivided into 6 (previously 4) different channels in IEEE 802.11ad, each of them occupy 2160 MHz of space and provide 1760 MHz of bandwidth

802.11ad channels:

ChannelCenter (GHz)Min. (GHz)Max. (GHz)BW (GHz)
158.3257.2459.402.16
260.4859.4061.56
362.6461.5663.72
464.8063.7265.88
566.9665.8868.04
669.1268.0470.20

Note: Some of these frequencies might not available for the use of IEEE 802.11ad networks around the world (reserved for other purposes or requires licenses).

How does 802.11ad Wi-Fi work?

Like previous versions of Wi-Fi, 802.11ad is an official standard ratified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Unlike previous versions, however, the tech behind it didn’t come from the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Instead, it’s based on tech created by the WiGig (Wireless Gigabit) Alliance, which was officially announced back in 2009, entered draft stage with the IEEE in 2011, and finally emerged as the standard it is today when the WiGig Alliance merged with Wi-Fi Alliance in 2013.

Limitations of 802.11ad

Because it uses the V band of millimeter wave (mmW) frequency, the range of IEEE 802.11ad communication would be rather limited (just a few meters and difficult to pass through obstacles/walls) compared to other conventional Wi-Fi systems. However, the high frequency allows it to use more bandwidth which in turn enables the transmission of data at high data rates up to multiple gigabits per second, enabling usage scenarios like transmission of uncompressed UHD video over the wireless network.

The Next Generation

The following standard for even higher capacity in 60GHz V-band is IEEE 802.11ay

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