Analysis of off-the-shelf Millimeter Wave Systems with Phased Antenna Arrays
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The performance of current consumer-grade devices for 60 GHz wireless networks is limited. While such networks promise both high data rates and uncomplicated spatial reuse, we find that commercially available devices based on the WiHD and WiGig standards may suffer from their cost-effective design. Very similar mechanisms are used in upcoming devices based on the IEEE 802.11ad standard. Hence, understanding them well is crucial to improve the efficiency and performance of next generation millimeter wave networks. In this paper, we present the first in-depth beamforming, interference, and frame level protocol analysis of off-the-shelf millimeter wave systems with phased antenna arrays. We focus on (a) the interference due to the lack of directionality of consumer-grade antennas, and (b) the degree of data aggregation of current devices. Regarding (a), our beam pattern measurements show strong side lobes that challenge the common conception of high spatial reuse in 60 GHz networks. We also show that reflections in realistic settings worsen this effect. Further, we measure weak directionality when beamforming towards the boundary of the transmission area of an antenna array. Regarding (b), we observe that devices only aggregate data if connections require high bandwidth, thus increasing medium usage time otherwise.