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WiGig Deals Bring Multi-Gigabit WiFi Ever Closer

Gordon Kelly


WiGig Deals Bring Multi-Gigabit WiFi Ever Closer

Remember the Wireless Gigabit Alliance? If not you will this time...

What's the deal?

As the name suggests, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance is interested in bringing gigabit and multi-gigabit per second speeds to next generation WiFi technology via a technology dubbed WiGig. It's a noble aim, but now we should take it extremely seriously indeed.

Today the Wireless Gigabit Alliance has announced it has attained the full backing of the WiFi Alliance, the trade group that actually holds the trademark 'WiFi' around the world. It also controls the 'WiFi Certified' logo meaning it dominates what wireless technologies will and will not succeed. On top of this WiGig has garnered the formal backing of Cisco which has by far the largest influence on the wireless sector in business and enterprise.

So what does this all mean?

In short the Alliance has come up with a 60GHz wireless technology with potential performance of up to 7Gbit - that's 7000Mbit. This is a monstrous expansion of 802.11g (real world usage about 25Mbit) which still dominates home networks and 802.11n, its troubled successor which took seven years to get to market and claps out at around 40-45Mbit in real world usage.

WiGig is also royalty free, backwards compatible with existing WiFi standards and designed from the start with low power requirements so it works on mobile devices like laptops and smartphones.

Sounds great. What are the hurdles?

With today's announcements the only remaining one is the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) which has been behind every WiFi standard to date and traditionally taken forever to ratify them. WiGig ideally needs its blessing, but IEEE is currently developing '802.11ad', a similar 60GHz based wireless standard which tops out at 1Gbit, but it is barely off the drawing board.

Why could it all work?

WiGig has huge industry backing (despite only being formed in May 2009) including - most crucially - Intel. Dell, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Nvidia, AMD, Texas Instruments, Atheros, Marvell, Realtek and Broadcom are the other significant names attached.

Consequently the Wireless Gigabit Alliance believes IEEE will need to come to a compromise. "There is no point in having a Blu-ray verses HD DVD scenario" said Alliance board member and Dell senior technical director Bruce Montag in an interview with me. "We don't expect there to be two different standards {and} we don't anticipate conflict, we expect to work together".

This should be helped by the fact the Alliance is made up of many ex-IEEE people who came together after the 802.11n ratification debacle to form a new alliance which could agree standards quickly and build traction. So far it is good to its word, having finalised its spec in December last year. This will be submitted to IEEE for approval in just two weeks. "Our mission is to develop and unify a solution for next generation WiFi technology," confirmed fellow Alliance board member and VP of marketing at Wilocity Mark Grodzinsky. "The vision is for broad interoperability across PCs, handhelds and consumer technology in general."

If all goes to plan, when can I get it?

Depending on how nice the IEEE plays, the Alliance's exciting standard (it remains unnamed, but 'WiGig' is perfectly fine in my opinion) has nothing to prevent it being in products towards the end of 2011. If it was delayed significantly beyond that the Alliance will look to release Draft products which can be upgraded with firmware later on for full compatibility with the finished standard. This approach was adopted by 802.11n when its negotiations dragged on.

"We figured out our blueprint from the errors with 802.11n and we're ready" concluded Montag.

The future of our multi-stream wireless home cinema setups, next generation broadband speeds and general geeky happiness depend on it...


WiGig Wireless Gigabit Alliance Homepage

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