Faster Wi-Fi at a new frequency
The WiGig Alliance, which was working on a fledgling standard for communications in the little-used 60GHz radio spectrum, will formally merge with the well-established Wi-Fi Alliance, which has been promoting Wi-Fi communications in the more conventional part of the radio spectrum for several years. The two have been working together since May 2010, and the WiGig group has always openly planned to offer its technology as a “third band” for Wi-Fi, alongside the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
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Wireless communications at 60GHz have been around for some time (as far back as 1895, in fact), but got a boost in 2009 with the formation of the WiGig Alliance, backed by industry players including Broadcom, Intel and Microsoft. With the alternative standard, the frequency is higher than existing Wi-Fi, which allows potentially higher data rates but could lead to higher energy consumption and have a shorter range.
The merger is not unexpected: “It has been in the offing for a while,” said Vince Holton, editor of Incisor. “It’s mostly about a big Alliance gaining easy access to some probably useful technology, and provides a lifeline for a much smaller organisation that has tried for some time to establish a new standard, but has to face the fact that it doesn’t have the clout or resources to make it happen alone. And would probably fizzle out otherwise.”
WiGig claims to have surmounted the problems of short range and power usage, but products haven’t appeared overnight. There are WiGig add-in cards, and Dell is selling an ultrabook which contains one.
While WiGig’s promise of multiple Gigabits of throughput in new spectrum has been slowly materialising, Wi-Fi is pushing for 1Gbps with the new 802.11ac specification, due to arrive in products this year.
“Combining the expertise of Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig Alliance will deliver a terrific user experience with 60 GHz solutions, and will help ensure that a full range of interoperable WiGig solutions reaches the market as quickly as possible,” said Wi-Fi Alliance president Edgar Figueroa.
“We set out four years ago with the simple goal of realising a global wireless ecosystem of interoperable, high-performance devices that would operate seamlessly,” said Dr Ali Sadri, President and Chairman of the WiGig Alliance. “In that time there have been many challenges to overcome but we have now created a market that simply did not previously exist.”
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