Wi-Fi Alliance partners WiGig for 60GHz

The two industry groups announce cooperation to share technology toward high speed Wi-Fi, promising to deliver 7Gbps wireless streaming.

The Wi-Fi Alliance and Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) have announced an agreement to share technology toward the future 60GHz specification, which promises a higher capacity for Wi-Fi.

The agreement will allow the Wi-Fi Alliance to include WiGig technology into the 60GHz standard, while WiGig plans to align its technology to the Wi-Fi Alliance's specs for the IEEE 802.11ad wireless LAN standard.

In a report released Monday, Wi-Fi Alliance chief executive officer Edgar Figueroa said the industry group will be bringing WiGig's specification, released in December 2009, into the Wi-Fi Alliance's certification program for 60GHz wireless. WiGig last year released a specification promising transmission rates of up to 7Gbps that would be backward-compatible with the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard.

Phil Solis, practice director for wireless connectivity at ABI Research, also said in the report: "By cooperating, the groups have set a course for interoperability and backward-compatibility that will accelerate the adoption and usefulness of multi-gigabit wireless networking."

The Wi-Fi Alliance indicated "a significant portion, if not all" of the 60 GHz devices will support traditional Wi-Fi networking in the 2.4 and 5 GHz band.

WiGig was formed last May comprising of tech giants such as Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, Dell and Panasonic. The WiGig technology transmits data over shorter distances, and is more suitable for single-room setups, for example in connecting a home multimedia system to a computer.

Competition with WirelessHD
The concept of employing the 60GHz frequency band isn't new. Back in 2006, an alliance formed by electronics companies including NEC, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, announced they were working on a 60GHz specification called WirelessHD, aimed at making high-capacity, short-distance transmissions possible--similar to what WiGig is offering.

WirelessHD is unlikely to come together with WiGig on a technology front. According to reports, John LeMoncheck, CEO of SiBeam, one of WirelessHD's main supporters, said WirelessHD is focused on video streaming with a claimed output of 28Gbps, while WiGig's 7Gbps is suited more for data networking.

The chipmaker announced Monday it has started to make silicon supporting both WirelessHD and WiGig, LeMoncheck emphasizing that the two specifications serve different markets.

The WiGig and Wi-Fi Alliance partnership may help the industry agree on common standards. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group said last month it was deciding between WiGig and WirelessHD flavors for future development of Bluetooth, according to the EE Times.

According to an Engadget report in February, Japanese tech companies Hitachi, Panasonic and Toshiba are already planning to release 60GHz-capable products in the second half of this year, with the former two choosing WiGig.