The big picture
Information can’t ride a network without an agreed-upon set of rules – called a protocol – governing how the devices on that network will consort. Protocols depend on the nature of the communications media upon which they ride.
For the media of millimeter-wave wireless, few protocols exist. Protocols designed for lower frequencies can’t simply be transposed to the mmWave – at least without network models and simulations of these legacy protocols at mmWave frequencies, which NIST CTL is doing. With these and other initiatives, NIST CTL’s mmWave protocol development team aims to bridge the protocol gap, which will be indispensable to those developing the systems next-generation 5G wireless will depend on.
What we do
Just a handful of protocols exist for mmWave communications, among them IEEE 802.11ad and IEEE 802.15.3c. Both are for short distances (no more than a few meters) and very high speed links. These standards specify operation in the 60 GHz band and mainly involve indoor scenarios.
The NIST CTL is now working through the IEEE on an enhancement to 102.11ad, also known as WiGig, to boost indoor capacity and to cover outdoor wireless backhaul to move large amounts of data back to the network backbone. In addition, wireless-system manufacturers have shown interest in the 28 GHz and 38 GHz bands for dense urban deployments.
Specifically, our mmWave protocol research involves: