Next-generation wireless will be called 'WiGig'
Sept. 24, 2012
by Mark Ollig

Coffee shops with signs offering “Free WiFi” bring us through the door so we can enjoy sipping our favorite brew – a large dark-roast (with cream) for yours truly – while wirelessly accessing the Internet using our laptops and mobile devices.

As we know, nothing stays the same in this world, especially when it comes to technology.

Soon, we may be seeing those coffee shop signs offering us “Free WiGig.”

Wireless Gigabit or WiGig, is the next wireless technology standard we may be tethering to when accessing the Internet from our mobile computing devices.

WiGig has been under development since 2009, and in addition to being used to complement WiFi; it will free us from the various cables used when connecting computing hardware.

“In the future, if it computes, it connects. From the simplest embedded sensors to the most advanced cloud data centers, we’re looking at techniques to allow all of them to connect without wires,” said Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner at this year’s Intel Developer Forum.

And WiGig will be able to handle the job.

With data transmission speeds reported at a lighting fast 7 to 10 gigabits per second, WiGig will be around 10 times faster than today’s fastest wireless 802.11n network based Wi-Fi systems.

One of the reasons WiGig is so much faster is because it operates in a different frequency bandwidth range.

Current WiFi networks use the 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) and 5 GHz radio frequency bands.

The 2.4 GHz range is used by most of our laptops and mobile devices when accessing the Internet. This range works well over a greater distance than the 5GHz bands, which is primarily used for our electronic Bluetooth devices that only need to operate over short distances.

When talking about WiGig, the amount of wireless spectrum and speed that becomes available when compared to WiFi opens up tremendously – we are talking WiGig wireless transmissions operating in the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band.

When used with Protocol Adaptation Layers (PAL), WiGig becomes functional for our personal computing and mobile applications.

In the near future, we may be using WiGig technology, instead of physical cords and cables for connections to our monitor display screens, keyboards, computing devices, and external hardware.

During this year’s Intel Developers Forum, Wireless Gigabit Alliance chairman Ali Sadri joined Rattner on stage to demonstrate how an Intel Ultrabook computer could wirelessly sync at high speeds to devices, such as docking stations, keyboards, monitors, and external network drives.

While watching a video of the demonstration, their first presentation didn’t work; not because the technology failed, but because the Ultrabook computer’s battery was drained from having been used the previous day and had not been re-charged.

This did cause a bit of embarrassment to the presenters.

Once the Ultrabook had a fully-charged battery installed, the demonstration went on without any problems.

The demo showed how video (it could just as well have been any type of data) was transmitted wirelessly from a Vantec external hard drive sitting on the table, through the Ultrabook, and then wirelessly streamed from the Ultrabook to a pair of display monitors – with no inter-cabling of the devices used.

As I look at the cables currently cluttering my desk from my two display monitors, I think about the day when I will be able to get rid of them – it will be a welcomed change.

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance is an organization which oversees and addresses the need for faster wireless connectivity between computing, communications, and entertainment devices.

“Our mission is to establish a global ecosystem of high-speed and easy-to-use wireless devices that work together seamlessly to connect people in the digital age. WiGig technology enables multi-gigabit wireless communications among consumer electronics, handheld devices and PCs,” states their website.

WiGig technology is scheduled to be demonstrated at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

By the end of 2013, we should begin seeing WiGig 60 GHz products designed for use with our notebooks and laptops, mobile computing devices, digital cameras, TV set-top boxes, and more.

These new WiGig products will be designed to be compatible with today’s existing 802.11 Wi-Fi devices, so in the event the 60 GHz high-speed signal is unmaintainable, a connection to the lower speed 802.11 Wi-Fi network will be used.

“Looking to the future, all computing will become wireless computing, with an ever-increasing demand for faster wireless communication,” said Rattner.

According to many folks in the computing industry, WiGig looks like the next wireless road to be traveled upon.

To watch the Intel demonstration video, go to http://tinyurl.com/8aud5md.

For further information about the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, visit http://www.wigig.org, or follow them @WiGigAlliance on Twitter.

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