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WiGig Alliance allies with Wi-Fi group for superfast wireless

Intel, Microsoft are just two of the big tech companies backing the Wireless Gigabit Alliance

May 10, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Two international short-range wireless industry groups announced an agreement on Monday to promote faster Wi-Fi in the 60 GHz frequency band, as well as the two bands where Wi-Fi now operates.

Use of the 60 GHz band, which is also unlicensed, would give users the ability to send data at much faster speeds than with existing Wi-Fi, into the 1 Gbit/sec., or faster, realm. With the new standard, a user could send a high-definition video across a living room wirelessly from an HD player to an HD television, eliminating the need for a cabled connection.

The two groups, the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (also known as WiGig Alliance), announced they will cooperate on multi-gigabit networking within the 60 GHz band.

Wi-Fi traditionally works within the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and the Wi-Fi Alliance wants coming 60 GHz-capable devices be backwards compatible with existing Wi-Fi specifications, Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa told Computerworld.

WiGig announced a specification in December, which it said at the time would result in data transfer rates between devices of more than 10 times faster than today's wireless LANs, or up to 7 Gbit/sec., about 10 times the 802.11n rate.

Figueroa, however, would not discuss the rates that would result from the alliance announced on Monday, saying only it would support 1 Gbit/sec. speeds or faster.

WiGig had already attracted leading manufacturers of semi-conductors to its board, including Intel Corp. and Marvell International Ltd. The board also includes a range of computing device makers, such as Dell Inc., LG Electronics, Nokia Corp., Samsung Electroincs Co. and Toshiba Corp. Microsoft Corp. is also a board member.

ABI Research forecasts that various manufacturers will build 2 million 60 GHz chipsets by 2015, and the analysis firm has been tracking several industry groups that want to make products within the 60 Ghz band.

Some analysts believe that the specification announced by WiGig will eliminate competing standards groups such as WirelessHD supporters, which is backed by 40 companies, but ABI's Xavier Ortiz said that WiGig can co-exist alongside rival industry groups.

"I don't think the two groups are going to fight each other to the death, and each will focus on their market," he said. WirelessHD has more of a focus on streaming of HD TV signals inside of homes, while WiGig seems to have a greater focus on sharing data between device, perhaps sending a backup of a personal computer to a storage device.

WirelessHD products are beginning to emerge from SiBeam and Georgia Tech for receiving and transmitting video signals -- but they are expensive, Ortiz said.

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