Samsung Plots Foray Into Speedy 60-GHz WiFi Market


Samsung said it has overcome the hurdles to commercializing 60-GHz WiFi, and it plans to develop products that would enable data transmission five times faster than is currently possible. Samsung has plans for a variety of 802.11ad products, including audiovisual and medical devices, in addition to telecommunications equipment. Fast WiFi will be integral to its work with the Internet of Things.

Samsung on Sunday announced that it has resolved issues hindering the commercialization of 802.11ad standard 60-GHz WiFi technology.

The company’s solution maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference regardless of the number of devices on the network, using what it claims is the world’s first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.

Samsung leveraged millimeter-wave circuit design and high-performance modem technologies, and developed a wide-coverage beamforming antenna that optimizes the communication module in less than 1/3000th of a second when there’s any change in the communications environment, in order to achieve commercialization of 60-GHz transmissions.

This develops further on work done by the WiGig Alliance, which published a white paper on the 60- GHz standard and beamforming in 2010.

60-GHz technology will let home networks handle more data faster, and “that’s the direction the industry is heading in,” Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, told TechNewsWorld.

“Consumers want to be able to access anything at very high speeds from all their devices,” he explained. “We’re moving away from a traditional cable-TV orientation to having everything over IP, and this is just another step in that direction.”

Samsung is one of the first companies to push toward 60 GHz, because it wants to be one of the first companies to market with a product, noted Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Going for 60 GHz

The IEEE’s 802.11ad is going head to head with Wireless HD, developed by an industry consortium, in the 60-GHz arena. Samsung is working with both.

In the United States and most other countries, the 60-GHz spectrum is unlicensed, meaning it can be used for various applications. In the U.S., the so-called 60-GHz spectrum ranges from 57 to 64 GHz.

The 60-GHz spectrum is ideal for transmitting high-speed digital data, and players seek to use it in the connected living room to move large amounts of data rapidly over the wireless home network.

Samsung plans to use its 60-GHz technology in a variety of products, including audiovisual and medical devices, in addition to telecommunications equipment. The technology will be integral to developments for the Samsung Smart Home project and to its work in the Internet of Things.

What the WiGig Alliance Wrought

Transmissions in the 60-GHz spectrum are very short-range and lossy, meaning data is readily lost in transmission.

The WiGig specs resolved this problem by using adaptive beamforming, which focuses a signal between two devices into a concentrated beam using directional antennae whose positions are adjusted until there is sufficient capacity to handle the transmission. That enables data transmission over longer distances.

The WiGig Alliance specified a new network architecture, as well as new PHY, MAC and Protocol Adaptation Layers to accomplish the feat.

The WiGig specs build on the security mechanisms used in 802.11 and were designed to support low-power handheld devices such as cellphones, as well as high-performance devices such as computers.

The Alliance was subsumed last year into the WiFi Alliance which is continuing its work on the 60-GHz project.

Market Factors

Perhaps most importantly for the chances of success in the market, the WiGig specs let communications sessions be transferred rapidly and seamlessly between a 60-GHz channel and any lower-frequency WiFi channel.

This means consumers can continue to use older equipment with their new 60-GHz stuff.

“This is going to be one of those things where the market decides,” Mike Jude, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, told TechNewsWorld.

“The virtue of an IEEE standard [is] the extent that it’s compatible with existing home networks based on the 801.11 standard,” Jude continued. “That’s going to be a boost for [802.11ad]. With the current economic conditions, people won’t do a forklift replacement of all their current technology.”

However, “most of the connected devices won’t require bandwidth this high, and interference issues will still plague [60-GHz technology] used for entertainment content,” Tirias’ McGregor told TechNewsWorld. “Beamforming only goes so far.”

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