The 802.11ad (60GHz) market has been interesting to watch, especially now that products utilizing the technology are becoming more prevalent. Vendors leveraging 802.11 in a frequency band whose propagation properties differ significantly from the traditional 802.11 bands of 2.4 and 5GHz mean new engineering challenges to overcome.
The AP-387 point to point unit announced by Aruba earlier this year seeks to address these challenges in a few interesting ways. Rain fade is primary concern when working with high frequencies such as 60GHz. In order to combat this, the AP-387 has two radios, a 60GHz and a 5GHz radio, with the unit aggregating the throughput of both radios.
Should a storm roll through, the unaffected 5GHz radio will sustain the link, and the access point’s programming will dynamically adjust the amount of traffic sent to the deteriorated 60GHz radio. Additionally, the physical design of the AP includes a lip that acts as an umbrella, keeping sheets of rain from coating the 60GHz antenna.
The other key and quite snazzy feature of this PTP unit is the self aligning properties of the 60GHz radio, and it’s ability to dynamically scan and realign the link after heavy winds or vibrations. Inside the access point are two 60GHz antenna elements and a chipset that allows the radio to scan +/- 40 degrees horizontally and +/- 10 degrees vertically in order to acquire or realign the link.
With such a wide scanning angle and the ability to self acquire the link, the need for precision in line of sight deployments is severely lessened. I love the way Eric Johnson (Director of Product Management for Aruba) put it in his Mobility Field Day 3 presentation, “only minutes to deploy and hold my beer.”
The AP-387 has an extremely narrow (10 degree) beam-width, meaning units could theoretically be placed ~5 meters apart and still use the same channel. PoE+ is recommended for the AP-387, but it will operate with the 60GHz radio backed off by 3 db if 802.3af is used.
It’s important to note that there is a 500 meter distance limitation with these units..The product development reasoning behind the distance limitation is due to size and cost considerations of the high gain antenna elements for the 60GHz radios. The current unit is rather small in comparison to other 60GHz products in this space, as you can see from the picture below.
If you are interested in learning more about this 802.11ad PTP solution, I highly recommend this post byAruba Powering Next Gen Mobility with Eric Johnson and Onno Harms from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.
Disclaimer: While Mobility Field Day, which is sponsored by the companies that present, was very generous to invite me to the fantastic MDF3 event and I am very grateful for it, my opinions are totally my own, as all redheads are far too stubborn to have it any other way.