IEEE approves 802.11ad wireless LAN standard

A new set of high-speed wireless LAN specifications is now official. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently announced that its Standards Association Standards Board approved the IEEE 802.11ad-2012 amendment. The 802.11ad spec enables “data rates up to 7 Gbps, more than 10 times the maximum speed previously enabled within the IEEE 802.11 standard,” the organization said. “With the improvements introduced in IEEE 802.11ad, this amendment is a perfect complement to the existing IEEE 802.11 standard, acting as the foundation for tri-band networking, wireless docking, wired equivalent data transfer rates and uncompressed streaming video,” it added.

The 802.11ad spec includes what is called “fast session transfer” feature, which enables compliant devices to transition between the 60-GHz frequency band and the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands. IEEE said, “The ability to imperceptively move between the bands ensures that computing devices are always ‘best connected,’ enabling them to operate with optimal performance and range criteria.” It further explained: “Many users in a dense deployment can all maintain top-speed performance, without interfering with each other or having to share bandwidth as with legacy frequency bands.” As author Scott Thompson pointed out in an article we published in June 2011, “Because 60 GHz is a millimeter-wave operation, the signal will not penetrate well through walls, and so it is best suited for ‘in-room’ operating connecting stations to stations, or a station to a display.”

Bruce Kraemer, chair of the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN Working Group, commented, “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 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.”