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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


May 10, 2010, 12:03 pm

This can't come soon enough - for years my wireless network was faster than my internet connection - but now the internet connection is actually faster than my wireless ... and I need all that tasty internet goodness as fast as it's arriving down the pipe

Hopefully it won't take another seven years .....


May 10, 2010, 4:54 pm

This looks very very cool. Can't wait.

Out of interest. What bandwidth do you actually need (not the theoretical max of HDMI) to transfer 1080p HD wirelessly ? (3d figures not required)


May 10, 2010, 5:57 pm

Sorry to bring up the dreaded 'A', but why is THAT company conspicuously absent from this list? They're interested in next-gen Wi-Fi, no?


May 10, 2010, 6:12 pm

@AJ - in theory 1080p will stream just fine over 802.11g, but you will need a very strong connection and no other traffic going on across your network. The need for faster WiFi largely comes down to a) as Catalan says: our broadband speeds can now go faster than our WiFi, and b) to enable networks to multi-task without making activities such as HD video streaming reduce to a crawl.


May 10, 2010, 6:43 pm

@GoldenGuy - that was my first thought too.

I've invested in an all apple network, so if they're not at the party when 7Gb comes to fruition I'm going to be the poor man of the street....


May 10, 2010, 7:25 pm

@Gordon: Despite the use of the word streaming I think he was actually asking about direct playback over wireless. 1920x1080x32@60hz is around 3.5Gbps so it doesn't look promising that it can be done directly but as far as I know that's entirely uncompressed so it may be that a couple of low end chips can compress that with an acceptable time delay and a cheap enough price to make it practical (for some uses).


May 10, 2010, 8:17 pm


Poor man of the street indeed - right there with you. Of course, as we both know, it's most uncharacteristic for Apple to be late adopters to standard features (cough, Blu-ray, SD slot, FOLDERS!!!, cough).


May 10, 2010, 8:21 pm

I know its still in its nascent state, but any idea of real-world speeds for WiGig, or whether it will have the same broadcast range as Wireless-N?


May 10, 2010, 9:57 pm

@Dan and GoldenGuy: I'm suspecting they are working on their own "standard" that they would expect everyone to drop everything and adopt because you know they are who they are and everyone bends over backwards for them. Afterall when lightpeak is ready we will all dump usb 3 immediately.

You can expect an open letter beratting wigig.


May 11, 2010, 1:44 pm

@bazza - True. So far no one on the Apple discussion forums has been able to explain to me why 'Extend a wireless network' is available on Apple (n) kit with no loss in bandwidth but not available on Apple (g) kit {Other than WDS that halfs the bandwidth}.

I bet Apple-7Gb kit is loaded with proprietary features that are non standard compliant and not understood well.

Either way, they'll no doubt be magical and revolutionary and I'll probably end up saying 'That looks cool - gotta get me some of that....'

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