What is 802.11ad?

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- everything RF

Nov 5, 2022

802.11ad is a version of the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard that was developed to provide a multi-gigabit wireless system (MGWS) for the transmission of high-speed data over short distances. It uses the 60 GHz V Band (50 to 75 GHz) of mmWave frequency which limits its communication to just a few meters (1-10 m) and makes it difficult to pass through obstacles/walls compared to other conventional Wi-Fi systems. The high frequency allows it to use more bandwidth enabling the transmission of data at high data rates up to multiple gigabits per second (up to 8 Gbps) for scenarios like transmission of high-quality video over a wireless network. 802.11 ad is one of the standards used for WiGig along with 802.11ay.

802.11ad usually uses up to 6 channels in the 57 to 70 GHz frequency range providing a channel bandwidth of 2.16 GHz. The channel bandwidth of 2.16 GHz provides the spectrum necessary for such high-speed data transfer rates. Comparatively, the most bandwidth that 802.11ac can offer is 160 MHz via channel bonding. It uses a variety of modulation and coding schemes (MCS) with varying data rates from 385 Mbps to 8085 Mbps (8 Gbps). The maximum rate is achieved using MCS12.6 using π/2-64QAM and Low-Density Parity Code (LDPC) at a rate of 7/8. The maximum rate for low-power mode is at MCS31 delivering 2503 Mbps (2.5 Gbps).

802.11ad does not support spatial multiplexing such as MIMO. It supports a single spatial stream on a single channel. However, it supports beamforming for spatial separation and directional operation with support for up to 32 antennas delivering a data transfer rate of 2 Gbps at up to 100 feet of line-of-sight (LOS). This standard is ideal for short-range LOS connections. Non-LOS connections are possible using multiple antennas and are used in public Wi-Fi infrastructure and small cell backhaul in building complexes, shopping malls etc.

IEEE 802.11ad was mainly developed to get rid of wires in environments with a high density of electronic gadgets like offices, homes and building complexes. Connecting projectors to laptops or computers or connecting media players to TVs etc. requires short additional wiring which can be eliminated using high-speed wireless networks. 802.11ad can be used for content transfer between devices such as laptops, computers, phones etc. and display devices such as TVs, projectors, multimedia systems etc. using high-speed wireless data transfer. It can be used for wireless docking, display, entertainment, instant file transfers, HD media streaming, AR/VR apps, and more. 802.11ad has the capacity for all these applications that require a high bandwidth of over 1 Gbps and also offers low latency of ~10 ms.

802.11ad supported chipsets are made by many major manufacturers like Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm Atheros, Wilocity, Tensorcom, Peraso, Lattice Semiconductor, MediaTek, Nitero etc. There are several 802.11ad compatible wireless routers and access points available from companies like Netgear, Acelink, TP-Link, IgniteNet, Asus etc.