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WiGig puts 7Gbps specs in device makers' hands

The WiGig Alliance, an industry group backing high-speed wireless networking in the 60GHz band, has released its first specifications to manufacturers
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Wireless networking at speeds of up to 7Gbps has moved closer to reality, after a major industry group gave manufacturers the specifications they need to build 60GHz devices.

On Monday, the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance released its first specifications to adopters of the WiGig wireless networking technology, which uses the 60GHz frequency band. The specs first emerged in December last year, but were only given to members of the alliance for review. The 60GHz band can be used for gigabit speeds, which fit applications such as high-speed file transfers and the wireless transmission of HD video between PCs, phones and television sets.

As it can provide transfer speeds up to a theoretical maximum of 7Gbps, WiGig has the potential to be around 10 times faster than 802.11n, the current iteration of Wi-Fi.

In addition, the WiGig Alliance announced it has signed an interoperability deal with the group that organises Wi-Fi standards, making it possible to integrate both WiGig and Wi-Fi technologies into the same device. The arrangement with the Wi-Fi Alliance means future tri-band devices will be able to support 60GHz high-speed connectivity alongside traditional Wi-Fi networking in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, the groups said on Monday.

"60GHz device connectivity will be an exciting enhancement to the capabilities of today's Wi-Fi technologies," Wi-Fi Alliance chief Edgar Figueroa said in a statement. "It will expand the utility of Wi-Fi, used by hundreds of millions of people every day. From its inception, the WiGig specification was designed to work on a wide variety of devices, making it a compelling input as we begin to define our certification program for 60GHz wireless."

The WiGig and Wi-Fi Alliances share many members, including Dell, Nokia, Microsoft, Broadcom, Intel and Texas Instruments. Networking company Cisco, already a Wi-Fi Alliance member, said on Monday that it has become a member of the WiGig Alliance board . In a statement, Cisco executive Bob Friday said the company sees 60GHz technology as "an important option in the evolution of wireless LANs in the enterprise, small business and home".

One rival group, the WirelessHD Consortium, is pushing WirelessHD, a technology similar to WiGig that could theoretically achieve transfer speeds of more than 10Gbps. As is the norm in the networking industry, the WiGig Alliance and WirelessHD Consortium share several members.

Other rival technologies include Sony's TransferJet, which has a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 560Mbps over very short distances, and Bluetooth 3.0, which provides a maximum of 24Mbps.

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