Emerging wireless standards

I admit it. I have been star struck in Vegas few times. There was the time I saw Vanna White. There was the time I saw Mike Tyson. And there was last week, when I got the opportunity to speak with Matthew Gast.

Okay, so Matthew didn't appear in the movie The Hangover, but he is every bit a heavyweight as "Iron Mike" is, especially when it comes to wireless networking. Matthew is the author of 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide and has chaired Task Groups for both the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance.

I took the opportunity to speak with Matthew about two new emerging standards in the wireless networking space.

We discussed two new standards. The first was 802.11ac -- in my opinion, this is the next logical extension of Wi-Fi networks. It operates in the same frequency bands as today's wireless networks and therefore should be backward compatible. It calls for much higher speeds (up to almost 7 Gbps) compared to today's top speeds of 300-450 Mbps. 802.11ac leverages some of the same technical improvements as 802.11n such as channel bonding and spatial multiplexing, but to a greater extent: Even wider channels. Even more spatial streams. You get the picture.

The second standard we discussed was 802.11ad, which also calls for wireless networking to approximately 7 Gpbs. However, the 802.11ad standard is being written for operation at approximately 60 GHz. As Matthew points out in the above video, 802.11ad is less defined at this point when compared to 802.11ac. 802.11ad uses a much higher frequency, which makes me think that it will more likely be used as a short-range, high-throughput cable replacement technology, rather than as a successor to 802.11n networks.

Douglas J. Haider is a Consulting Systems Engineer with Cisco. He hosts a personal blog at WiFiJedi.com, and micro-blogs on Twitter @wifijedi

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