AD Routers for the Win

By | September 7, 2017

Just when you thought that you had the best wireless speeds possible with your Wireless AC routers a new standard – Wireless AD – appears that is rated for data throughput up to 4,600Mbps.

This makes it four times faster than 802.11ac!

Of course there is theoretical speed and real world speed

Still the possibility of streaming high-bitrate 4K, HDR films over Wi-Fi is now a reality with a Wireless AD routers.

The best triple-layer UHD Blu-rays top out at 128Mbps bitrates and Wireless-AD routers could even make high-end wireless virtual reality headsets…well….a reality.

Wireless AD is beginning to show up in stores – most notably with the Netgear Nighthawk X10 and the TP-Link Talon AD7200.

As with all new electronics if you want to be an early adopter you will pay a steep price- upwards of $400 dollars for some units.

Is it worth that extra cost to get the latest and greatest router and speeds?

Of course that is up to you but in this article, I hope to make it a little bit easier for you to decide.

Wireless AD – How Does It Work?

Wireless AD –or 802.11ad – is an official standard ratified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The 802.11ad standard is based on tech created by the WiGig (Wireless Gigabit) Alliance, which merged with Wi-Fi Alliance in 2013.

The new standard uses a completely different frequency band to previous Wi-Fi standards. Wireless-AD works over 60GHz—technically, between 57 and 66GHz, depending where you live in the world.

This is completely different from the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies of 802.11b/g/n/ac

The large chunks of spectrum available at around 60GHz mean far more data can be transmitted, but there are some caveats.

Wireless AD Frequency Downsides

As general rule, the higher the frequency or the shorter the wavelength, the greater the absorption rate.

While that’s not a problem in a vacuum – that isn’t the real world.

In the real world where we have things like tile or wooden floors and dry wall and brick walls, high-frequency waves have trouble travelling long distances.

Long wavelength -i.e. low frequency- signals like radio and television can travel vast distances.

On the other hand short-wavelength signals such as visible light are absorbed by most materials.

In Wi-Fi, all of its frequencies fall into the microwave category that spans 300MHz up to 300GHz. The wavelengths are around 1 meter to 1 millimeter respectively.

The 2.4GHz frequency of Wi-Fi standards a/b/g is low enough that it has good penetrative power. It easily passes through people, doors, and walls.

5GHz frequency that is used for 802.11n/ac did reduce the useable range – hence the reason you see many routers support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks in addition needing to support both for backwards compatibility.

On the whole however, 5GHz remains largely useable throughout small homes.

The problem with Wireless AD is the signals can’t even penetrate a single brick wall and simple wooden door can greatly impact the signal.

So while 802.11ad provides very fast speeds if you’re in the same room as your router if you move  outside that room—or even out of line of sight of the router—and your signal degrades or is lost.

Wireless-AD is therefore not a replacement for existing Wi-Fi standards.

Instead, just like 5GHz routers have support for the 2.4GHz frequency the new Wireless-AD routers will include support for an older standard included so that they can still be used at long range.

Using Wireless AD For Cable Replacement

You can also use Wireless AD as a cable replacement technology.

WiGig was originally conceived to be used in such a fashion.

Wireless AD could be used with TVs, set-top boxes, smartphones, or even cameras to wirelessly deliver and receive UHD video.

You could also use the standard with NAS boxes and portable hard drives to back up data quickly and wirelessly.

The concept allows for at least one room in the home to have an entirely data cable-free setup.

Wireless AD might eventually also be used in the office and other work environments This where wireless laptop docks, monitor connections, and more could be replaced with the technology.

Wireless-AD Hardware

A quick look at Amazon shows only two routers with the new Wireless-AD standard the Netgear Nighthawk X10 and the Tp-Link AD7200. Both of these routers sell in the $300 dollar range.

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 appears to be aimed at a slightly more premium market and is priced higher than the Tp-Link AD 7200 at $399.

The features of the Netgear include

  • 11ac Quad Stream Wave2 WiFi plus 802.11ad WiFi—Up to 4600+1733+800 Mbps wireless speed
  • 60GHz 802.11ad WiFi – Fastest WiFi technology for instant downloads and backup
  • Plex Media Server – Use Plex to serve all your media from your external USB or NAS drive connected to your Nighthawk X10 router.
  • Powerful 1.7GHz Quad Core Processor – Fastest processor for home router for better 4K streaming, VR gaming, surfing, or anything you throw at it!
  • High-Performance Active Antennas—Better WiFi coverage & faster speeds
  • Dynamic QoS – Prioritizes bandwidth by application and device for the best gaming and streaming experience
  • Additional DFS Channels— No sharing of WiFi with your neighbor with additional interference free channels in 5GHz

The TP AD7200 is a slight step down and priced about $100 less at $290.

Its features include

  • AD7200 Multi-band with 4-Stream technology delivers up to 7200Mbps Wi-Fi speeds over 2.4GHz (800Mbps), 5GHz (1733Mbps), and 60GHZ (4600Mbps) bands
  • Multi-user support from MU-MIMO technology
  • Powerful 1.4GHz dual-core CPU

Wireless AD – The Future

There are currently no devices that connect to Wireless AD.

Considering that no devices currently use the standard it can make forking out a couple of hundred bucks for a Wireless AD router hard to swallow.

But with the speed at which technology changes that situation will change in six months or less.

Buying a Wireless AD router is better considered in the light of making sure that you are prepared for future technology – especially if you need a new router anyway.

It is also useful as well if you want to connect two routers together wirelessly to expand your network.

Keep watching for more articles about the new and exciting Wireless AD standard.

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