Fast and Infuriating: Performance and Pitfalls of 60 GHz WLANs Based on Consumer-Grade Hardware
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Wireless networks operating in the 60 GHz band have the potential to provide very high throughput but face a number of challenges (e.g., high attenuation, beam training, and coping with mobility) which are widely accepted but often not well understood in practice. Understanding these challenges, and especially their actual impact on consumer-grade hardware is fundamental to fully exploit the high physical layer rates in the 60 GHz band. To this end, we perform an extensive measurement campaign using two commercial off-the-shelf 60 GHz routers in practical real-world environments. Our study is centered around two fundamental adaptation mechanisms in 60 GHz networks—beam training and rate control—whose interactions are key for performance. Understanding these interactions allows us to revisit a range of issues and provide much deeper insights into the reasons for specific performance compared to prior work on performance characterization. Further, our study goes beyond basic link characterization and explores for the first time practical considerations such as coverage and access point deployment. While some of our observations are expected, we also obtain highly surprising insights that challenge the prevailing wisdom in the community.