WiGig alliance creates next-generation wireless networking standard

By next year, the speed of Wi-Fi networks could be significantly faster thanks to a new generation of technology being announced today by the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig).

The WiGig 1.0 standard combines two different wireless technologies: 60-gigahertz wireless and Wi-Fi. The first technology uses the 60-gigahertz band of the wireless spectrum to create a 10-meter range wireless network. It also uses something called “beamforming” to extend the range of the 60-gigahertz network beyond 10 meters. The 60-gigahertz wireless network can support devices inside a room and can transfer data at 7 gigabits per second, or about 10 times faster than the fastest Wi-Fi networking available, 802.11n, which transfers data at 600 megabits per second.

Beyond the 10-meter range, whereupon the first technology attenuates, the network will automatically switch to Wi-Fi at the speed of 600 megabits per second. That network will have a 100-meter range, just like traditional 802.11n.

Mark Grodzinski, WiGig marketing chair and vice president of marketing at Wilocity, said in an interview that the completed specification will be made available to partners in the first quarter and that products are expected to launch for consumers sometime in 2010. More than 25 companies support the new standard, including giant chip makers such as Intel, Broadcom and Texas Instruments. New members in the group being announced today include Nvidia, TMC, SK Telecom and Advanced Micro Devices.

The WiGig standard will have competition. The rival Wireless High Definition Interface (WHDI) group completed its standard this week as well and will create a network that can transfer data in the 5-gigahertz spectrum at speeds up to 3 gigabits a second, with a range of 100 meters. And SiBEAM is heading the Wireless HD consortium to make 60-gigahertz wireless chips for networking inside a room. Some of the members such as Samsung and Sony are betting on all three horses.

The wireless chips from all three groups will likely be built into next-generation PCs, mobile handsets, TVs, displays, Blu-ray players, digital cameras and a variety of other gadgets. WHDI focuses on transferring video, while SiBEAM may focus on replacing cables in a home electronics network. WiGig, meanwhile, accommodates both the Wi-Fi and WHDI uses. Consumers may be confused by the three different standards, but Grodzinski says the competition will likely shake out as users figure out what network best suits them.

The demand will likely materialize for these wireless networks as consumers start sending video wirelessly from one room to another and multiple users try to watch different web-based videos in the home at the same time. The WiGig group has been working for about two years on the standard.

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