Practice Verses Theory

Compatibility. WiGig hands over seamlessly from existing WiFi standards 802.11abg and n. Consequently you can start a file transfer and swap between WiGig and WiFi without breaking the transfer. The process is transparent to the end user. It is secure too working with a speed-optimised version of AES2, the WiFi security protocol which has yet to be broken.

Availability? WiGig expects the first products to hit the market midway through 2012 and ramping up by Q4. Cost? The WiGig Alliance believes scales of efficiency will see it become cost effective within 12 months while the potential savings leaving off other ports or standards would make it cheap long term. Scalability? Panasonic already has managed to shrink WiGig to work in prototype mobile phones.

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So we can say goodbye to all our cables and short range wireless standards and hello to a new dawn in computing? Not quite…

As always the problem in the technology sector is mass adoption. WiGig has powerful supporters, but that doesn't always translate into real world products. Apple has been a public supporter of Blu-ray since since 2005 yet it has not released a single computer with a Blu-ray compatible drive. It is now unlikely it ever will. Support in the technology sector is like saying "we think that is a good idea": there is no binding agreement for this support to lead to tangible commercial devices.

On top of this WiGig has a crucial battle ahead with arguably its most ardent supporter: Intel. The WiGig Alliance president and chairman is Ali Sadri (pictured), director of the Intel Mobile Wireless Group, but Intel has a huge amount invested in the fledgling Thunderbolt and WiDi (both of which WiGig could replace) and – as USB 3.0 has found – no matter what momentum your standard may have Intel can hugely affect the rate of adoption and even fate of a technology.

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We chased Intel for a comment about where WiGig fits in its long term thoughts and, despite the company's tendency to reveal its product roadmap years in advance, it declined to respond. The same was true for fellow WiGig partner AMD. Should that change we'll let you know.

As it stands then WiGig is tremendously exciting. It has the potential to revolutionise how we connect our peripherals and how we determine our PC's performance. Up to now influential companies have also been queuing up to give WiGig their endorsement. It is now time to back up these kind words with action…

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