Samsung has announced that it’s entering the 60GHz 802.11ad WiFi game. Samsung says it has a commercialized version of 60GHz WiFi (aka WiGig) that’s capable of 4.6Gbps, or 575 megabytes per second — about five times faster than current dual-stream 802.11ac devices, or fast enough to download a movie in a couple of seconds. Samsung says the first devices supporting its 60GHz WiFi tech will be available in 2015.
This announcement is a little bit fishy. Samsung is dressing this up like it’s solely responsible for developing 60GHz WiFi — but in actual fact, 802.11ad has been in development since 2009 and was standardized way back in 2012. Back then it was known as WiGig (because of its gigabit speeds), but in 2013 it was consumed by the Wi-Fi Alliance and became part of the WiFi family of wireless networking standards. We have been writing about WiGig/60GHz WiFi since at least 2011, and got our first hands-on demo in 2012 — but, seemingly for technical reasons, very few WiGig products have actually appeared on the market. Presumably Qualcomm’s acquisition of Wilocity means it will have a commercialized 802.11ad solution soon, though.
Calling 802.11ad “60GHz WiFi” is a bit of a misnomer. Until now, WiFi described a set of relatively-low-frequency (2.4GHz and 5GHz) technologies for (mostly) creating wireless LANs. As a result, WiFi has generally had a range of between 50 and 200 feet — the kind of distances that you’d usually be loathe to run a cat 5 cable. 802.11ad, because 60GHz radio waves require line-of-sight and can be disrupted by just about anything — cats, humans, bad atmospheric conditions, a closed door — generally has a range of just a few meters. As such, 60GHz WiFi has a fairly short list of decent applications, with “wireless docking stations” probably at the top