Posts Tagged ‘WiFi’

Super Bowl plans to handle 30,000 Wi-Fi users at once—and sniff out “rogue devices”

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

When 73,208 fans file into the New Orleans Superdome for the Super Bowl on Sunday, they’ll have to follow the usual rules: no booze, no weapons, no fireworks, and no food (though food and beer can be purchased inside the stadium at exorbitant rates).

They’ll also be prevented from bringing in any wireless equipment that might interfere with the proper workings of the Superdome Wi-Fi network. Lots of time and money went into giving ticket holders a wireless connection that rivals the one in their living rooms, and the NFL doesn’t want anyone messing it up.

“The NFL has a very robust frequency coordination solution in place,” Dave Stewart, director of IT and production for Superdome management firm SMG, told me in a phone interview. “Every device that enters the building has to go through a frequency scan and be authorized to enter. At the perimeter the devices are identified and tagged. If they present a potential for interference, they are remediated at that moment. Either the channel is changed or it is denied access. It’s all stopped at the perimeter for this event.”

In Stewart’s words, the goal is to prevent any “rogue access points or rogue equipment from attempting to operate in the same frequency” as the stadium Wi-Fi network (“rogue” as in “not under the control of the system administrators”).

It’s hard to imagine fans, press, or stadium staff deliberately trying to sabotage Super Bowl Wi-Fi, but some may do so unintentionally. Interference can be produced by “everything from someone operating a network wireless camera to someone operating pyrotechnics equipment that utilizes wireless service to trigger their equipment,” Stewart said. “Imagine if you were to bring in a wireless camera and that wireless camera is tuned to the 2.4GHz frequency range [also used by Wi-Fi] and is continually broadcasting a signal. Anything that’s going to operate in the same frequency range has the potential to cause interference. Some of those interfering devices are minimal, but others are impactful.”

The biggest concern, he said, comes from “non-Wi-Fi-compliant continuous broadcast devices such as wireless cameras.”

The best defense against such “rogue” wireless networking is to prevent the wrong devices from coming into the stadium, but you can’t stop everything. “You can’t stop a laptop from coming in. Working press needs to use that,” he said. Yet laptops can be problematic if their owners try to create their own private Wi-Fi networks. “Anyone who enters the facility with a laptop has the ability to become a rogue by going to ad hoc [wireless networking] mode,” Stewart said.

That’s why wireless security doesn’t stop when the game starts; the Superdome will use spectral analysis equipment to detect interference. “We’re always monitoring the network. So we have a plan in place if there is an interfering signal to identify that and remediate that problem,” Stewart said.

So if you’re broadcasting a rogue wireless signal, well, you might just get a tap on the shoulder from a Superdome employee. Isn’t it more fun just to watch the game, anyway?

Is the TV timeout over yet?

Well, maybe not. The NFL manages to spread 60 minutes of clock time across three hours in a typical game. What with time running off the clock between plays and the typical play lasting about four seconds, an average game ends up with only 11 minutes of action. And given how long Super Bowl halftime shows last, the game might not be over till Monday.

So fans have plenty of time to check their e-mail, upload pictures to Facebook, or get instant replays and game-related information on their mobile devices. While the NFL’s strict control over wireless equipment might sound draconian, it’s in service of the greater good: Wi-Fi for everyone who wants it.

The Superdome already had one of the most robust cellular networks among football stadiums, because 18 months ago AT&T built a carrier-neutral distributed antenna system on site to boost mobile signals. But that wasn’t enough. Cellular providers want Wi-Fi in places like the Superdome because it offloads traffic from the cellular network, and fans like it because they’re less likely to drop their connections or wait for videos to buffer.

The Superdome (or the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, to get the branding right) previously had Wi-Fi—but only for staff, press, and systems like ticketing. “That was not getting us where the NFL wanted us to be relative to the Super Bowl needs,” said Superdome General Manager Alan Freeman. The new, Super Bowl-scale Wi-Fi network was just put in this season, with trial runs in a couple of late-season Saints games and in the Sugar Bowl. The Super Bowl will be the first time the network is publicly advertised as available to all fans, so the load will be greater. No password will be required to get on the Wi-Fi network.

More than 700 wireless access points will distribute signals inside the Superdome. Another 250 access points will provide Wi-Fi outside the stadium, including in parking lots and in Champions Square. (Another 300 access points are in the adjacent New Orleans Arena, which hosts the city’s pro basketball team.)

During the Super Bowl, the network will be able to handle up to 30,000 simultaneous connections, which should be enough. At last year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, Wi-Fi from 604 access points supported 8,260 simultaneous connections at its peak, while 12,946 attendees were on the Wi-Fi at some point during the game. 225GB of data was downloaded and 145GB uploaded, with peaks of 75Mbps down and 42Mbps up. (We’re told the cell network for all carriers at last year’s Super Bowl handled another 560GB of data total, including downloads and uploads.) Usage is expected to be higher this year, but it’s impossible to predict exactly how much it will increase.

Superdome management thinks it’s ready. In testing, “We’re constantly seeing 20Mbps up and 20 megs down in all areas of the building,” Stewart said. “That, of course, will change depending on the load, but the system is backed up by multiple redundant links to the Internet.”

Verizon Wireless built the Wi-Fi network, and all equipment used came from Cisco. The back-end of the network is handled by two Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches (with another two in the adjacent arena), Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers, and Cisco’s 5540 Adaptive Security Appliances. Access points are Cisco Aironet 3500 devices.

This isn’t consumer gear (a business Cisco is getting out of); these are high-density access points, designed for stadiums, with directional antennas that send the signals to just the right places. The Superdome has a ceiling, of course, but it’s far above fans’ heads. If antennas weren’t positioned correctly, signals could be wasted in all that empty air. Using directional antennas lets the Superdome “control the signal and have a seamless handoff from one section to another when a fan roams, or when someone comes online,” Stewart noted.

We need more channels!

The network supports 802.11n and previous Wi-Fi protocols 802.11a, b, and g, using both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Unfortunately, many fans’ devices are capable only of getting on 2.4GHz.

The 2.4GHz band has 11 channels that can be used for Wi-Fi in North America, but because the channels overlap, the Superdome uses just channels 1, 6, and 11. In the 5GHz band, with its 23 non-overlapping channels, the Superdome network can use just about every available channel (while making sure not to interfere with radar).

High-end mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone 5, and Samsung Galaxy S III support 5GHz. Newer versions of the Kindle Fire support 5GHz, too; Google’s Nexus 7 Android tablet does not. Many phones are still stuck on 2.4GHz as well.

“We’re very anxious and can’t wait for everyone to get on 5GHz,” Stewart said. Even better will be when the world moves on to 802.11ac networks and devices, because the next-generation protocol uses multi-user MIMO (multiple-input/multiple-output) to transmit signals more efficiently. But that’s not happening soon. While some home routers support 802.11ac, they’re not NFL caliber.

“There’s no commercially available high-density 802.11ac equipment that I know of,” Stewart said.

In a worst-case scenario, high numbers of fans streaming video could cause congestion and slow down fans’ connections. “This is not unlimited. There’s no such thing,” said Kelley Carr, co-founder of Cellular Specialities, a consultant who helped oversee the design and implementation of the network for the big game.

What they have for the Super Bowl is probably good enough for this year, though. “We’re all confident it will work, just based on our experience in the past,” said Carr. “As long as 100 percent of the people in there don’t take out their cellular device and switch it to the Wi-Fi network, it should be fine.”

With an average signal strength rating of -60dB, fans in their seats should get a signal comparable to what they would have at home if they were sitting about 20 feet from their wireless router, Stewart said.

This will be the seventh Super Bowl to be hosted at the Superdome since 1978—and such access would have been unthinkable in any of the previous games. Freeman noted that “from a technological perspective, these mega-events keep getting more complex, exponentially in some cases, every year.”


River Thames to bathe in upgraded long-distance WiFi

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Not that a view over the Thames ever gets old, but commuters should soon find it a bit easier to check their inboxes while they’re on or next to the water. Californian WiFi specialist Ruckus says that its wireless steering technology — which increases network range by up to 4x by directing signals around obstacles and interference — has just been picked for an upgrade to BT’s Thames WiFi service.

The new “carrier-grade” equipment should be activated within the next couple of months and will stretch out along the full 27 meandering miles of river that are already covered by traditional antennas. With better hotspot access spreading across the Tube network, black cabs and now the water, EE’s central London LTE service will have even more to prove in terms of raw speed.


Cisco to sell Linksys home networking business to Belkin

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Belkin will keep the Linksys brand and partner with Cisco for software and service-provider products

Cisco Systems plans to sell its Linksys home networking business to Belkin International for an undisclosed sum under an agreement that includes cooperation between the companies on software, service-provider products and other areas.

Belkin will keep the Linksys brand alive and honor warranties for customers who bought Linksys products, it said in a press release Thursday.

Cisco acquired Linksys in 2003 and has used it to deliver several generations of Wi-Fi routers and other consumer networking equipment into homes. But Cisco is now pulling back from its consumer business as it focuses on becoming one of the top enterprise IT vendors.

Belkin makes consumer and small-business networking gear as well as accessories and peripherals and is based in Playa Vista, in Southern California. That’s not far from Irvine, where Linksys is based. Belkin plans to bring in the Linksys workforce as part of the deal, which is expected to close in March.

The combined company is set to be a powerful force in home networking. After the acquisition closes, Belkin will have about 30 percent of the U.S. market for home and small business networking, it said.

“Belkin’s ultimate goal is to be the global leader in the connected home and wireless networking space and this acquisition is an important step to realizing that vision,” CEO Chet Pipkin said in a statement.

Linksys gear will not be totally cut off from its Cisco origins. The companies plan to build a relationship in retail distribution, marketing, and products for service providers.

“Having access to Cisco’s specialized software solutions across all of Belkin’s product lines will bring a more seamless user experience for customers,” Belkin said.


The best 802.11ac routers featured at CES

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

If you’re in the market for a new [consumer grade] router, consider holding out for these new models.

At last year’s CES, 802.11ac was hardly prevalent on the show floor. Though other companies were still showing off their 802.11n capable routers, only Texas-based Buffalo had a prototype router set up at its booth for attendees to see. This year, the tables seemed to have turned, as the show floor was rampant with 802.11ac products, including varying routers from competing companies.

Interestingly enough, all of the routers featured here claim to be able to dial in a hearty 1300Mbps on their 5GHz band. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen—we haven’t used any of them just yet—but one thing is for sure: if you’re buying a new router this year, you may want to consider making the switch to 802.11ac after all. Fortunately, there were plenty of choices on display at CES, so here are a few of the models worth looking out for later this year. AirStation AC1750 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router – WZR-1750DHP

The AirStation AC1750 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router (or, more simply, model WZR-1750DHP) will cost $179 and feature speeds up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band and 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It also contains a dual-core chip for Buffalo’s Beamforming technology, which provides faster Wi-Fi speeds and longer ranges. Additionally, it will ship with four gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports for NAS-like functionality and printer sharing. It’s expected to ship late this year. D6200 Wi-Fi DSL Modem Router

Netgear announced a slew of products at its official CES 2013 press conference, one of which was the 802.11ac-compatible, dual-band gigabit D6200 Wi-Fi router. The router features built-in ADSL2+ model and Gigabit WAN with support for fiber-optic connections. It also comes with a proprietary featured dubbed Netgear ReadySHARE cloud that allows users to remotely access hard drives, printers, and flash drives that are tethered to the monitor. It will be available in April. Smart Wi-Fi Router AC1750 HD Video Pro, EA6700

The Smart Wi-Fi Router AC1750 HD Video Pro, EA 6700 is one of the beefier router models the company showed off at CES. The dual-band EA 6700 supports up to 10 or more connected devices and can support streaming HD video, as well as Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. As an added bonus, it also syncs up with Linksys’s iOS and Android apps and features SmartMap, which offers a virtual representation of every device connected within the network. No word yet on its availability.

D-link AC1750 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router, DIR-868L

D-link debuted a couple of new 802.11ac routers on the show floor, one of which is the DIR-868L: a dual-band gigabit, cloud-capable router with the ability to control its settings via a mobile app or the Web. The cylindrical shaped router is a nice change of pace from the standard “skinny box” model and features a Broadcom-based processor inside to facilitate StreamBoost, which helps designate the appropriate amount of bandwidth for all of the devices connected to the router. The router should be available later this year.


Fastest Wi-Fi ever is almost ready for real-world use

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

In a quiet suite removed from the insanity of the Consumer Electronics Show expo floor, a company aiming to build the fastest Wi-Fi chips in the world demonstrated its vision of wireless technology’s future.

On one desk, a laptop powered a two-monitor setup without any wires. At another, a tablet playing an accelerometer-based racing game mirrors its screen in high definition to another monitor. Across the room, a computer quickly transfers a 3GB file from a wireless router with built-in storage.

The suite was set up in the Las Vegas Hotel by Wilocity, a chip company specializing in wireless products using 60GHz transmissions, which are far faster than traditional Wi-Fi. Avoiding the show floor is a good idea if you’re worried about Internet connectivity, because thousands of vendors are clogging the pipes. But that’s not why Wilocity was here—they’d be able to perform the demo even in the busiest parts of CES without interference because they’re not relying on the congested bands used by regular Wi-Fi.

“I don’t think we’d have an issue with air congestion,” said director of product marketing Teresa Liou. “We’re just here because it’s quieter and less hectic than being on the show floor.”

Faster than a speeding bullet, too weak to pass through walls

Traditional Wi-Fi using the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands is crossing the gigabit per second mark with the 802.11ac standard. Wilocity is one of the main proponents of the even faster WiGig (or “wireless gigabit”), which can theoretically hit speeds of up to 7Gbps, with the downside of using frequencies that are easily blocked by walls. Even thin cubicle walls may block signals, Wilocity acknowledged. (See: 7Gbps wireless transfers and streaming, no router required.)

It’s possible the next wireless router you buy will use the 60GHz frequency as well as the lower ones typically used in Wi-Fi, allowing for incredibly fast performance when you’re within the same room as the router and normal performance when you’re in a different room.

Wilocity’s current chips hit a maximum throughput of 4.6Gbps, putting wireless speeds roughly on par with USB 3.0. Tri-band routers, wireless storage devices, and docking stations that facilitate wireless connections between mobile devices and monitors were all showcased in the Wilocity suite. These were just prototype devices, since shipping products have mostly not yet hit the market.

A Dell Latitude 6430u Ultrabook is thus far the only product using a Wilocity chip that you can buy. But WiGig isn’t really a selling point for this laptop today, because there’s no way to take advantage of it until there are companion products like docking stations or routers. Liou said Dell is planning a bundle to pair the Ultrabook with another WiGig-enabled product, but otherwise Wilocity couldn’t say when further products will hit the market.

WiGig builds on top of the just-completed 802.11ad wireless standard. Wilocity’s first-generation chip with 802.11ad can be used in computers and docking stations that connect devices to monitors, keyboards, and mice, but the chip can’t be used in wireless routers. A second-generation chip with router support was announced by Wilocity and Qualcomm at CES this week. The chip combines 802.11ad with 802.11ac, the successor to 11n. That way, when WiGig products have to fall back to 2.4GHz or 5GHz transmissions, they’ll at least be getting the best speeds that regular Wi-Fi offers. The chip will be sampled to vendors within a few months, and Wilocity is working with Marvell on tri-band chips as well, Liou noted.

Since no tablets with a WiGig chip are commercially available, Wilocity installed one of its chips into a Samsung Windows 8 tablet for purposes of the demo. The routers, wireless storage devices, and docking stations shown off by Wilocity were also prototypes made in conjunction with original design manufacturers like AzureWave.

Wilocity wanted to dispel any notion that WiGig requires users to keep devices stationary because of the limitations in 60GHz frequencies. To do that, they demonstrated streaming video from a laptop to a monitor while spinning the laptop around in circles. WiGig compensates for the movement with beamforming technology, which helps direct wireless signals.

“It finds the best path every time. It reflects off the walls,” Wilocity hardware engineer Vineeth Alva said.

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Tri-band WiFi chips for 7Gbps speed coming from Marvell, Wilocity

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Chips merge 802.11n WiFi with 60GHz to fuel everything from phones to routers.

One of the biggest changes ever made to WiFi is coming in the next year with a new standard supporting the 60GHz band, powering much faster transmissions than are possible in the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. All that’s needed are some chips, and products to put them in.

Slowly but surely, the chipmakers embracing 60GHz technology are making their plans known. The latest is Marvell, which today announced a partnership with startup Wilocity to make tri-band chips that will use all three bands. That will allow consumer devices to connect to existing WiFi networks while also taking advantage of the super-fast 60GHz band for high-speed data transfer and high-quality media streaming. Under the developing 802.11ad standard, 60GHz transmissions can hit 7Gbps.

Wilocity already has a partnership with Qualcomm Atheros, Qualcomm’s networking subsidiary, to build tri-band chips. Those are expected to come out by the end of this year and focus on the PC notebook market—for example a laptop bundled with a remote docking station. The partnership with Marvell won’t result in shipping products until 2013, but Wilocity’s VP of Marketing, Mark Grodzinsky, told us that the Marvell/Wilocity chips will focus on a broader range of products including tablets, Ultrabooks, and phones. The two companies are also targeting access points, residential gateways, and media center devices.

The first tri-band chips will support the existing 802.11n standard for 2.4GHz and 5GHz transmissions, as well as the forthcoming 802.11ad for 60GHz transmissions. Unfortunately, those first chips won’t support 802.11ac, the other forthcoming WiFi standard that will dramatically speed up the 5GHz band.

Eventually, you can expect to see chips supporting 11n, 11ac, and 11ad all in one package. Although some 11ac products are already on the market, both 11ac and 11ad are still awaiting ratification by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Real-world applications of 11ac might move along more quickly than 11ad because it’s based on the familiar 5GHz band. Grodzinsky said he doesn’t expect mass adoption of 60GHz technologies until 2014.


Anti-WiFi wallpaper lets cellular and radio through

Friday, May 11th, 2012

No Faraday cage or tinfoil hat required.

Better WiFi security could soon be just a few rolls of wallpaper away. French researchers at Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble, in cooperation with the Centre Technique du Papier, have developed a wallpaper that can block WiFi signals, preventing them from being broadcast beyond the confines of an office or apartment.  But unlike other signal-blocking technologies based on the Faraday cage (which block all electromagnetic radiation), the wallpaper only blocks a select set of frequencies used by wireless LANs, and allows cellular phones and other radio waves through. L’Informatcienreports that researchers claim the price of the wallpaper, which is being licensed to a Finnish manufacturer for production, would be “equivalent to a traditional mid-range wallpaper.” It should be available for sale in 2013.

Pierre Lemaitre-Auger, the director of studies at Grenoble INP’s ESISAR (School of Advanced Systems and Networks) said during a demonstration of the wallpaper that in addition to preventing WiFi snooping, it could also be used in areas where there is concern about interference from WiFi or to block external WiFi sources—such as in hospitals, hotels, or theaters. (It could also be used to prevent guests from trying to get out of paying for WiFi and picking up an outside network for free.) He also said that the paper could be marketed to people concerned about sensitivity to electromagnetic waves, such as “people who want the opportunity to protect themselves and to have very low levels of radio waves in their apartment.”


Optical WLAN uses LED light for up to 800 Mbit/s networking

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Networking researchers have used LED lighting to distribute full HD movies to notebooks, smartphones and other devices, in a system that could join WiFi and PowerLine networks in shuttling high-speed data around the home and office. The optical WLAN co-opts white LEDs used for regular illumination to transmit data at up to 100 Mbit/s, by flickering it more rapidly than the human eye can see.

It’s the handiwork of the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI in Berlin, Germany, where researchers have been looking at communications alternatives as part of the EU’s OMEGA Home Gigabit Access project. The lighting units – which rely on normal LEDs and a simple modulator to control the flickering – each have a roughly 90 square foot range, while any gadget wanting to receive the signal is outfitted with a simple photo diode.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen LED lighting used for line-of-sight networking. Back in 2008, the US Science Foundation gave an $18.5m grant to researchers at the University of Boston, who were experimenting with something similar. The overall appeal is obvious: the lights can apparently be modified to suit networking at little cost and with only minor adjustment, and can be used in places where traditional radio or wired networking is less feasible, such as in hospitals, on planes or in circumstances where running cables isn’t a possibility. There’s also no limit on the number of recipients of the data: basically, as many photo diodes as can maintain line-of-sight with the transmitter.

On the flip side, however, the researchers admit that the signal can be easily blocked if the photo diode is covered or shaded. They suggest it would work best as a companion to, rather than a replacement for, existing WiFi, 3G or other methods:

“It is best suited as an additional option for data transfer where radio transmission networks are not desired or not possible – without needing new cables or equipment in the house. Combinations are also possible, such as optical WLAN in one direction and PowerLAN for the return channel. Films can be transferred to the PC like this and also played there, or they can be sent on to another computer.”

The next step is boosting transmission speed, with researchers working on increasing the data rate eightfold. “Using red-blue-green-white light LEDs, we were able to transmit 800 Mbit/s in the lab” team member Klaus-Dieter Langer suggests.


Beamforming your data: how WiGig will offer 7Gbps speeds

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance recently announced that it has published the certification-ready 1.1 specification of its wireless system, and it includes some new capabilities, like a framework for video connectors. But given that even 5GHz WiFi is notorious for spotty reception mere feet from the offending wireless router, how will WiGig, which uses an incredible 60GHz frequency, ever manage to transmit information to devices that aren’t literally pressed up against the router?

First, a quick rundown of what WiGig is. WiGig is a specification for hardware that uses 60GHz frequencies to transmit up to 7 gigabits of data per second over the air; for comparison, 802.11n WiFi tops out at a few hundred megabits per second. In other words, a download of an HD episode of Archer on WiGig would take mere seconds, even without perfect reception. The system has been in development for some years now. The WiGig Alliance recently pegged the launch of capable devices for the first half of 2012.

WiGig is sufficiently advanced to have its own IEEE 802.11 standard, coded as 802.11ad. Using it at the time of release will require some new hardware both to send and receive signal, similar to when 5GHz started to make its way onto the market. Unlike 5GHz WiFi, though, WiGig’s design includes methods for avoiding the decay problems that higher-frequency transmissions usually have.

To overcome signal decay, WiGig uses a process called adaptive beamforming (it’s not the first or only system to do so, but is heavily reliant on it). With a combination of physical antennas on the devices and algorithms to tune the signal, WiGig devices effectively shoot their signals back and forth at each other in a narrow, targeted beam.

Antennas in the devices—say, a router—each have a broad reception area for a router to see devices in. When a device that wants to use the 60GHz connection is brought into that area, it begins communicating with the antennas to fine tune the antenna’s signal to maximize connection speed.

The antennas do this by adjusting both the amplitudes and the phase shifts of their broadcasted waves. The reception of the signal is optimized by minimizing different kinds of problems: the error between the antenna’s output and the expected signal, for example, or the signal-to-interference ratio.

When the phase shifts and amplitudes of multiple sources of waves are tweaked to work together and combine their pings in the right way, they create “lobes” of excellent reception areas. An unfortunate result of the lobes is that there are also null areas outside the lobes where there is no coverage at all, which doesn’t bode well for WiGig’s ability to blanket a particular area with simultaneous reception—at least, not without an army of routers and antennas.

As long as a device is within range of a particular antenna on the router, the antenna and receiver can run the digital optimization process fairly quickly to establish a concentrated signal beam. But “quickly” is as specific as the released sources by the WiGig alliance gets, so the speed of connection could be anywhere from a fraction of a second to multiple seconds, or longer.

The time it takes to establish the fastest beam could also depend on the quality of equipment you pick up. But even factoring that in, we’re not sure we’ll be able to stroll around holding our WiGig-capable devices and maintain the 60GHz signal. Still, the specifications say the equipment must be able to fall back on 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals in the event that it loses the higher-speed connection.

Mobility isn’t the only downfall of WiGig, though—according to the WiGig Alliance, the beamforming of compliant equipment needs to be within line-of-sight of receiving devices in order to work well. Even a person stepping between two communicating devices can break the signal, though according to a whitepaper by the group, WiGig-compliant equipment can bounce beams off walls and ceilings in order to reach between devices.

According to the specifications, devices can work over distances “beyond 10 meters,” but it seems walls and ceilings will be an even bigger obstacle for 60GHz WiFi than they already are for 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals. Bouncing the signal may work around some setups, but not all; no one will know whether a single router will cover more than one room until there is some actual hardware to try.

One of the more interesting capabilities of WiGig is an included compliance with audio-visual equipment, including with HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces. In theory, this compliance means that you could plug some kind of dongle into your TV’s HDMI port that can participate in all of the signal optimization processes, connect your computer to it over the superfast WiFi, and stream all the HD video you can gets your hands on (provided both your computer, router, and dongle are 802.11ad-capable and within range of each other, of course).

In the same vein, the new specifications include compatibility with USB and PCIe interfaces. This way potential users who want to get on board with WiGig immediately will be able to hook their computers up with dongles as well, instead of having to buy and install new wireless cards.

As of the second half of this year, manufacturers and adopters will be able to start testing and certifying their compatible devices with the 1.1 specification. WiGig dates have been pushed before, but we’d say 2012 is looking pretty good as the year we get our hands on some blazing, if still slightly fragile, WiFi.


NXP and Cohda teach cars to communicate with 802.11p, hopes to commercialize tech by 2014

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Ford promised to give our cars X-ray vision, and this little blue box might be the key — it’s apparently the first standardized hardware platform for peer-to-peer automobile communications. Called C2X (for “car-to-x”), the module inside is the product of Cohda Wireless and near-field communications (NFC) gurus at NXP, and it uses 802.11p WiFi to let equipped cars see one another around blind corners, through other vehicles, or even chat with traffic signals up to a mile away.

Pocket-lint got a look at the technology during Automotive Week, and got a good idea of when we can expect the tech; NXP says it should begin rolling out in 2014, and hopes to have 10 percent of the cars on the road gleefully gabbing by 2020.

Source:  engadget