Beamforming: The Best WiFi You’ve Never Seen

You should have seen my wife’s face when she found me glued to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “No, honey, come here!” I said, my face aglow with the bikini-clad pixels of Tyra and Heidi Klum. “You’ve got to see this!”

Arms crossed. Pursed lips. “Mm-hmm. Yes?”

I pointed at the laptop on the counter in front of me. “Not the models. The video. It’s high-def with a 19.2 megabits per second stream rate. Looks perfect, like HDTV, right?”


“Now turn around.” I pointed at the plasma screen on the wall pulling a different part of the same video, a second stream at 18.4 Mbps, through our Xbox 360 with an attached 802.11n bridge. “That’s almost 40 megabits streaming over WiFi. I’ve never even been able to do one stream before, and now we’ve got two!”

My wife looked at the screens, looked back to me, and shrugged. “OK, then. I’ll leave you and the girls to it. Have fun.”

She walked away and slammed the front door. I don’t think she actually cared if I was having fun. Strange. Clearly, she didn’t understand that something amazing had fallen into my lap. Actually, let me rephrase that. Something incredible had happened to my network. With an access point clear across the house, transmitting through one floor and three or four walls, coping with literally a dozen interfering WiFi networks surrounding the house, I was getting wireless network performance unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

This was my first experience with beamforming, something I’d only seen vague mention of on long-term WiMAX roadmaps. But here it was in an 802.11n access point from a company I’d never heard of, and it blew away everything I’d ever seen a wireless product do before.

Interested? Then let’s dig in. I may not have runway models to offer you, but I still think you’ll be impressed.

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  • computernewbie
    first post?!?!?! :D
  • LePhuronn
    No, REAL first, dipshit.

    I don't think it's a problem that this is really only enterprise-class hardware. The very fact that there's an tenna sensitivity that can cripple the entire system shows that for Joe Apefist this is too much trouble for its own worth.

    But, the tech shows amazing potential and given some tweaking time, I'm sure it will become more robust and more economical and will rapidly see adoption at home.

    Personally I can't wait!
  • Anonymous
    As a crude guide if you want 10dB gain over omnidirectional (10x the power in some direction) then you need to have 10 antenae to cover all directions. It works but with an obvious price in money and size, and a more subtle one in intereference for/from other transmitters unlucky enough to be in the chosen direction.

    Personally I'd prefer multiple omni basestations and just focus on minimising distance. Inverse square law is your friend.
  • bobwya
    Personally I'd prefer multiple omni basestations and just focus on minimising distance. Inverse square law is your friend.


    Yeh totally why punch through 4 walls when you can punch through 2. Plus you can site access points/ repeaters in free space away from mwave reflective objects.
  • Anonymous
    Also note that much more important to enterprise wireless LANs is NOT the raw AP to single client thoughput that so many of these gearhead tests do. We are constantly faced with offering stable and usable wifi for dozens to hundreds of concurrent users in crowded areas (conference centers, auditoriums....) Like any shared medium, Wifi suffers from co-channel interference and overly RF loud clients.

    One BIG advantage that you will see enterprise vendors work towards is NOT how much speed to any one client you can get, but how much Reduced interference beamforming will allow to neighboring wireless APs in the same ESS. The net result is that all users see benefit of solid and stable wireless connectivity.