Late last month, the Wi-Fi Alliance began certification of what is considered to be an important step in filling out the protocols that have revolutionized communications during the past decade.
The 802.11ad standard has been given the catchier moniker of WiGig. It enables data speeds as fast as 8 Gigabits per second (Gbps) over short range, according to AnandTech. WiGig operates at the extremely high frequency of 60 GHz, which makes it impossible for signals to penetrate walls and other objects. This means that there must be a line of sight between participants. It therefore is optimized, the story says, for “wireless docking stations, wireless AR/VR head-mounted displays, wireless high-performance storage devices, wireless displays” and other bandwidth-hungry devices.
It will be big. ABI Research released research today that suggests 2017 will be a critical year for WiGig as it penetrates the home market. The firm forecasts that more than 1 billion WiGig chipsets will ship in 2021. The key players will be Broadcom, Intel, Lattice Semiconductor, MediaTek, Nitero, Peraso and Qualcomm. The firm also said that it expects 28 percent of smartphones to be “triband,” with 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 60 GHz capabilities. It will be useful in the drive to make computing truly cable-free and, because of the tremendous amount of bandwidth it offers, will help push artificial reality/virtual reality.
The short range of WiGig seems, on first glance, to be a severe limitation. It does indeed constrain its use case. At the same time, WiGig adds value in unexpected ways, according to CNET’s Stephen Shankland:
The limits of 60GHz radio come with a silver lining. WiGig sends data in highly directional beams instead of bathing a room in radio, an approach that limits interference and lets multiple devices work at top speeds. Also, WiGig signals fade fast. That means you needn’t worry if your upstairs neighbor watches 8 hours of streaming video every night. Today’s Wi-Fi passes through walls and floors, so a busy neighbor can cause interference on your own network.
The master planners who are mapping the march of 802.11 are very savvy. They continually push the speed/distance envelope, of course. But it is important to make the technology more pliable and useful in other ways, as well. WiGig is an initiative that seems poised to do just that.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.