A tremendous amount of attention has been paid to the deep and growing relationship between unified communications and mobility. Indeed, it is safe to say that there is no real UC unless workers can collaborate using presence-based voice, video and data wherever they are.
There is another, less well-publicized but vital mobile element to business communications in general and UC in particular: Wireless within the office. Call it micro-mobile.
It is possible, of course, to use cellular and Wi-Fi within a room. These are not the best approaches, however, to streaming large amounts of data. While this might be the best that can be done for travelers on trains, there are some attractive technologies emerging for delivering extremely high volumes of data very short distances. This is perfect for the in-room element of UC, which involves telepresence, high-definition videoconferencing and other bandwidth-hogging applications.
"It can enable a connection between handsets and TVs to let people play games. The same technology will allow you to run a presentation and send it to a monitor to view in a boardroom in the office. WHDI also can be used for business applications to link a handset and a TV as well to connect a projector."
Organizations deploying UC are advised to get a handle on this important short-range landscape. The ability to wirelessly transmit telepresence sessions along with data and voice traffic around a corporate office-or SOHO and telecommuters' homes-is an important element of a UC platform.
Enter WiGig-and More
The high-speed segment is starting to move at high speed. On May 10, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig Alliance) made a number of announcements. Among them was the introduction of WiGig 1.0, a specification designed to traffic data at Gigabit per second (Gbps) speeds in the 60 MHz spectrum. The organization also said that it had entered a "cooperative arrangement" with the WiFi Alliance. The goal is to incorporate the higher-speed protocol within the Wi-Fi Alliance testing and certification program, the organizations say.
On a technical level, the agreement between WiGig and Wi-Fi could be beneficial at both the chip and management levels. The chips benefit by integration and shared overhead. On the operational level, agreements will enable sessions to move between whichever version of 802.11 (which operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) is being used and WiGig on an as-needed basis.
Though WiGig is the most closely associated with the type of networking used in a business setting, there are at least two other emerging standards of which IT departments should be aware. The three-WiGig, WirelessHD and Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) -- can be distinguished from Bluetooth and other short-range wireless technologies by their much higher capacities.
To date, WirelessHD and WHDI are positioned to serve the consumer market. An example of a prospective use would be to link a PC and a high-definition television or BluRay player without a cable. However, as the past few years have shown-in the use of the same smartphone for business and personal use and the adoption of Wi-Fi for business, to name two examples -- the demarcation between work and play is eroding.
It's not hard to see how the consumer-oriented technologies would be part of a UC platform. For instance, the teleconferencing element of a UC session can use the same type of high-definition monitor or Blu-ray player as consumers use. This is more likely if the teleconference involves somebody working from home. Thus, it is not reasonable to assume that WirelessHD or WHDI is potentially a valuable member of the real-world UC toolkit.
While WirelessHD and/or WHDI may eventually see significant use for UC, the main high-bandwidth short-range technique for business, at the start, will be WiGig. This is especially so after it got the de facto validation from the powerful Wi-Fi Alliance. Bruce Montag, a WiGig Alliance board member and a member of the senior technical staff in the Office of the CTO at Dell, said that the technical commonalities between Wi-Fi and WiGig make them naturally complementary.