Wireless Gets a Serious Speed Boost
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A new alliance of tech heavyweights hopes to launch of a new generation of ultra high-speed wireless devices and connectivity that promises to be as much as ten times faster than today's Wi-Fi wireless standard.
The WiGig Alliance says it expects to deliver final specifications and certification requirements for the new 60GHz wireless technologies by the end of this year. The first devices and systems to take advantage of the higher speed network could be released as soon as next year.
"Whether anyone can build and deploy in 2010 is up to the individual companies, but the goal is to set up an infrastructure that can be enabled in that time frame," Mark Grodzinsky, a marketing executive with the WiGig Alliance, told InternetNews.com. "It wouldn't surprise me to see the first products out next year.
WiGig certainly has backers with the wherewithal to crank out new products. The 15 member alliance includes Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Dell (NYSE: DELL), NEC, Nokia, Samsung, Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM) and Panasonic. Software giant Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is also a member. Today was the formal unveiling of the group's plans, but Grodzinsky said it's actually been meeting and working on the spec for the past 18 months.
"What we tried to do is enable a bunch of things we all want, but can't quite seem to do," explained Jason Trachewsky, secretary for the WiGig Alliance and Senior Technical Director and Fellow at Broadcom. He said WiGig will enable indoor networks to operate at gigabit-per-second speeds, so you can connect devices like camcorders and back up video to a hard disk or transfer high definition video to a mobile device you want to take on a plane, all wirelessly, in under a minute or a fraction of the time it takes today.
While it's not clear what integrating the technology or new WiGig peripherals will cost, Trachewsky said the member companies are well aware of the need to keep costs low to gain consumer acceptance and sales.
"The people involved know we have to get to zero cost," he told InternetNews.com. "We're developing a spec that enables simple devices and very high performance and still keep the power consumption down to where it can be used in mobile and handheld devices."
Grodzinsky formerly worked at Intel as part of the Wi-Fi Centrino (mobile chips) group. In addition to the Alliance, he also heads marketing at Wilocity, a two-year-old startup formed by a group of ex-Intel employees from the Centrino group, that is focused on developing next-generation wireless chipsets based on the WiGig spec designed for notebooks and peripherals.
The end of Wi-FI?
While WiGig's clear speed advantage would seem to wipe out the case for Wi-Fi, Grodzinsky and the WiGig Alliance see the two as complementary technologies.
"There years from now I see tri-band Wi-Fi products on the market in massive deployments," he said. "There are some limitations to WiGig where Wi-Fi does a better job, whole home coverage for example."
The Wi-Fi industry's own advocacy group, the Wi-Fi Alliance, was also conciliatory in comments on the WiGig announcement.
"Wi-Fi and the proposed technology now in development by the WiGig Alliance seem complementary," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in an e-mail sent to InternetNews.com. "Wi-Fi will remain the worldwide choice for high-speed networking around homes, enterprises and hotspots. WiGig may emerge as a technology for specific in-room technologies.
"Because we share so many members, its possible that as WiGig matures there may be opportunities for the Wi-Fi Alliance and the WiGig Alliance to collaborate."
Grodzinsky also made the point that WiGig is not limited to consumer applications. He predicts there will be many use cases for WiGig within the enterprise such as connecting to wireless projectors.
"We're now at the point where the last barrier to wireless being able to do everything that wire can has fallen," said Craig Mathias, a Principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm, Farpoint Group, in a statement.
"In both the residence and the enterprise, more capacity and throughput are always desirable. WiGig Alliance is going to deliver technology that will have an enormous impact on connectivity and mobility, information technology, consumer electronics, and many other applications."