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Wi-Fi Alliance to take over WiGig development, certification

Stephen Lawson | Jan. 4, 2013
The long courtship between the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, which promotes a fast wireless LAN technology that runs on very high frequencies, is set to end in marriage just a little too late for the International CES trade show next week.

Tablets, access points and storage products with the technology will probably go on sale later this year, he said.

WiGig may also replace HDMI cables for sending high-definition video to displays from other devices, according to analyst Craig Mathias of Farpoint Research. Sending uncompressed 1080p video requires about 3.5Gbps of throughput, he said.

Though the Wi-Fi Alliance will certify products for WiGig, it won't use the well-known Wi-Fi moniker for those certifications, reserving that brand for technologies that use traditional Wi-Fi frequencies around 2.4GHz and 5GHz, according to Davis-Felner. The group won't use its main technology moniker because WiGig is not backward compatible with Wi-Fi, due to their spectrum differences, and because the two systems will have different uses.

The two groups have been working together since at least 2010, when they announced a liaison agreement under which the Wi-Fi Alliance said it would evaluate the WiGig technology for integration into its future 60GHz specification. But combining the two groups before this would have been premature, Wilocity's Grodzinsky said. Lengthy standardization work held up the move, he said.

Because the memorandum of understanding came so late, the two groups won't be able to combine their efforts at CES, the annual consumer electronics gathering that is the natural stage for such technologies, Davis-Felner said. However, there may be informal meetings between them there, she said.

The merging of the two groups was widely expected, Farpoint Group's Mathias said. The many delays WiGig has faced don't worry Mathias, who says WiGig will be an important technology in time. "Things always take longer than the proponents advocate," he said.

The key to WiGig's importance is the amount of spectrum available for it to use in the 60GHz band, he said. Based on different laws in various countries, there's between 7GHz and 9GHz of unlicensed spectrum there for it, Mathias said.

"If you're looking for the absolute maximum possible throughput on a wireless connection, this is likely to be it," Mathias said. He expects further development of WiGig to give it speeds of 30Gbps or more.


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