The long-ballyhooed use of the 60-GHz spectrum for consumer and business sectors is finally here. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig), the organization promoting 60-GHz wireless technology, recently announced the publication of its unified wireless specification.
With other wireless technologies like Wi-Fi 802.11n and UWB topped out at several hundred megabits per second, there was a clear need for a faster way to facilitate the transmission of uncompressed video and other high speed data. Cisco, which recently joined the WiGig Alliance, sees 60-GHz technology as an important option in the evolution of wireless local-area networks (LANs) in the enterprise, small business, and home.
Version 1.0 of the specification supports data speeds to 7 Gbits/s. The standard also supplements and extends the 802.11 MAC layer, and it is backward-compatible with the IEEE 802.11 standard. Protocol adaptation layers are being developed to support specific system interfaces, such as data buses for PC peripherals and display interfaces for HDTV sets, monitors, and projectors. Moreover, the new standard supports beamforming, enabling reliable links at a range greater than 10 m.
Now that the spec is in place, WiGig members can begin developing products for the unlicensed 60-GHz spectrum to deliver multi-gigabit-speed wireless communications over short distances. Forthcoming WiGig tri-band enabled devices, which operate in the 2.4-, 5-, and 60-GHz bands, will offer data-transfer rates up to 7 Gbits/s—more than 10 times faster than the highest 802.11n rate. They will also be compatible with existing Wi-Fi devices.
The technology was designed to support a multitude of applications on both low-power and high-performance devices, including consumer electronics, PCs, handheld devices, and home-networking equipment. A royalty-free license is offered to WiGig adopters.
In another announcement, the WiGig Alliance joined forces with the Wi-Fi Alliance. They will share technology specifications to develop a next-generation Wi-Fi Alliance certification program that supports Wi-Fi operation in the 60-GHz frequency band. Since this agreement expands Wi-Fi’s capabilities, developers will no doubt get on board to come up with products that support 60 GHz.
Device connectivity in the 60-GHz band will complement the current family of Wi-Fi technologies. Targeted primarily for applications that require gigabit speeds, 60-GHz products are expected to find homes in a wide range of high-performance devices. A significant portion, if not all, of these devices is also expected to support traditional Wi-Fi networking in the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands.
The specification also defines procedures to enable WiGig-compliant devices to hand over sessions to operate in the 2.4- or 5-GHz band. It’s expected that a new class of tri-band Wi-Fi Certified devices will offer multi-gigabit wireless speeds while helping further ensure backward-compatibility.