Why WiGig is worth waiting for

A forthcoming networking protocol could mean major speed increases, even if it takes a while to come to market. Time to start factoring it into your next-generation wireless strategy


For a super-fast wireless networking technology, WiGig isn’t exactly blazing into being.

The protocol supports data transmission rates up to 7Gbps, more than 10 times higher than 802.11n. It was supposed to be ready for action by early 2013. But in January, WiGig Alliance chair Ali Sadri told Mobile World Live that his organization’s recent merger with the WiFi Alliance had delayed the protocol’s certification. Now, “based on our existing plan we should have certification in place later this year… maybe even beginning of ’14,” Sadri said. The delay stems from “integration logistics” challenges in the merger.

The snail’s pace is no indication that WiGig is in trouble, experts say. In fact, the slow process may work in businesses’ favour. Companies will have more time to think about how to best benefit from the new message format.

Tech pundits and market watchers seem unfazed by the stalled certification process. Phillip Solis, research director at ABI Research, points out that equipment manufacturers usually release products based on draft technology standards well before certification bodies finalize the standards. Manufacturers then release firmware updates after standards are ratified to bring pre-standard products in line with finalized standards.

“I don’t think the certification delay will delay the market all that much,” Solis says.

So what will WiGig do, when it arrives? The technology enables a different kind of docking station, says Kevin C. Tofel at GigaOM. “Expect to see… easier ways to stream content from a mobile device to a large screen and other similar use cases where WiGig can replace today’s data-transfer cables.”

WiGig is a short-range technology, notes ABI’s Solis. “Distance makes a big difference to the speed.” It operates at up to 30 feet—and the shorter the distance, the faster the transmission.

Interference from other wireless devices is no big concern. WiGig operates at 60 GHz—far above the 5 GHz 802.11a uses or 2.4 GHz, which 802.11b and g employ.

“Low-power transmissions will not propagate very far, but this is considered an advantage,” explains measurement company Agilent in a white paper on WiGig. “It reduces the likelihood of co-channel interference and increases the possible frequency re-use density. Another perceived advantage of limited range is the reduced opportunity for ‘theft’ of protected content by eavesdropping on nearby transmissions. (In fact, 60 GHz was first proposed for battlefield communications just for this reason.)”

Fewer wires means streamlined IT departments. Technicians won’t need to keep stashes of cables for peripheral connections. On the user side, high-speed wireless networking opens the door to computer-less desktops. Imagine users relying on their smartphones as primary computers, logging into workstations and streaming data from handheld devices to high-definition screens.

WiGig has the potential to help organizations, especially in this post-PC era, as tablet shipments are expected to outpace laptop shipments for the first time. IT decision makers would do well to consider WiGig’s possibilities, so when the technology arrives, businesses are ready to make use of it.

While you’re waiting for WiGig, learn how you can optimize your network today by downloading, ‘The Converged IP network: Your Future Productivity Depends On It.’

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