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Wi-Fi, like ice cream, is coming in many flavors

Matt Hamblen | July 15, 2014
Coming 802.11ax Wi-Fi promises fast speeds to each user in a crowd; WiGig (802.11ad) gives quickness in a single room.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is still developing its own WiGig certification process to show which WiGig products will interoperate. The alliance expects to launch a list of interoperable products in 2015, Ennis said.

In early July, Qualcomm announced it had acquired Wilocity, which makes chips based on WiGig. Qualcomm said it will use the WiGig technology in its 64-bit Snapdragon 810 mobile chip. Smartphones and tablets with WiGig are expected ship in the latter half of 2015.

A smartphone that incorporates a WiGig chip could wirelessly transmit a 4K video from a smartphone to a big screen.

Wi-Fi for every situation
With WiGig and 802.11ax on the horizon, Ennis said he's expecting the arrival of routers and devices equipped to work at fast speeds in a variety of settings, from living rooms to outdoor spaces.

Neither standard is widely available today, but 802.11ac products have been on the market for a year. "They are definitely hitting performance points in excess of what consumers need right now, and will continue to satisfy them for the next few years," Ennis said.

"There's no need to wait for products on the coming standards," Ennis advised enterprise customers and consumers alike.

As Wi-Fi expands almost everywhere, there will be implications for city governments that want to provide Wi-Fi in public spaces as well as companies and nonprofits that want to offer services on their campuses or in malls.

Even major cellular carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T are planning networks that will rely on greater Wi-Fi capacity, sometimes joining Wi-Fi hot zones to their fastest LTE networks.

In the Kansas City area, Google's installation of Google Fiber to homes has helped prompt a proliferation of wireless Wi-Fi technologies as well. Cable provider Time Warner said in May that it had provisioned 11,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for its Kansas City customers on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border.

Cisco, meanwhile, said it is working with Kansas City, Mo., officials to launch a new network for smart city services that will rely heavily on the use of mobile apps.

The Wi-Fi Alliance also has a Passpoint certification program that focuses on improving a user's connection and ease of access and discovery of Wi-Fi hotspots.

"Wi-Fi is being incorporated within all kinds of devices and it's now a must for [organizations] to be supporting it," Ennis said.


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