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High-speed multi-gigabit 60GHz WiFi: Coming soon to a TP-Link router near you

2016 is the year of multi-gigabit 802.11ad WiFi. At least, according to Qualcomm, it is. 

The chipmaker’s subsidiary Qualcomm Atheros has announced that a number of laptops, routers and phones will be able to make use of a number of Qualcomm components that’ll give buyers access to the eye-melting WiFi speeds of up to 4.6Gbps, which will make things  like streaming 4K Ultra HD video to multiple devices a breeze. Sky, are you listening? 

Qualcomm says that ‘notebooks from Acer and Asus’, ‘access points from Elecom, NEC and TP-Link’ and, er, ‘smartphones from Letv’ will make use of the new technology. Letv is perhaps better known in its native China – unlike Xiaomi, Huawei and ZTE, it’s yet to make much of a splash anywhere else in the world. 

Qualcomm says your next phone will stream 4K Ultra HD to your TV TP-Link’s AD7200 router and laptops from Acer’s TravelMate P648 series will make use of the new multi-band 802.11ad tech, so there’s a better chance that we’ll be able to experience speeds of up to 4.6Gbps between devices, if Qualcomm’s claims are to be believed. 

Most devices currently use dual-band WiFi, which communicates using the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequency bands. This allows devices to switch between the two bands depending on which of the two is the most congested. Adding a third band, not unlike opening a new motorway lane, promises to alleviate the congestion even further – but there’s a catch.  

Devices using the 60GHz band will need line of sight in order for these to work. Unlike the lower 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, which can penetrate and bounce off of walls, ceilings and furniture, 60GHz WiFi, while capable of transferring high amounts of data, are better suited to short range, local transmissions. 

While there’s hope for beamforming algorithms to mitigate this, it’s unlikely that we’ll see 60GHz WiFi coverage encompass the whole home. 

Still, TP-Link’s networking business unit vice president Andy Chen claims that its upcoming Talon AD7200 WiFi AD router will boast a better wireless performance than a wired gigabit connection:  

“Now users can share thousands of photos, full-length HD movies, and entire music libraries between devices in seconds,” Chen said. 

“They can also game online wirelessly at speeds faster than wired Gigabit Ethernet connections, and stream in 4K [Ultra] HD on multiple devices at the same time. The Talon AD7200 brings a whole new level of wireless connectivity to the home.”

We’ll believe that when we see it; 60GHz WiFi has been a long time coming. According to Engadget, which has also snapped some eyes-on pics, TP-Link’s not talking prices for the AD7200 yet, but reports that it’s due to go on sale by the second quarter. 

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