Market Insight

Backwards Compatibility Will Be a Key Driver for WiGig Adoption

October 25, 2013  | Subscribers Only

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Contributed by Stephanie Gibbons, Senior Analyst of Connectivity for IHS Technology

In 2009, the WiGig Alliance released the 802.11ad specification, with the Wi-Fi Alliance adopting the technology as a next-generation, short-range wireless technology in 2010. In September, the Wi-Fi Alliance designated “WiGig CERTIFIED” as the certification brand for products equipped with 802.11ad, a move that will help fuel industry momentum for the latest protocol, with new WiGig-enabled devices expected to hit the market in 2014.

The 802.11ad standard operates in the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band and boasts data transmission rates of up to 7Gbps. According to one leading manufacturer of 802.11ad chipsets, it would take only five seconds to transfer 1,000 photos between two WiGig-enabled laptops or just three minutes to transfer a 1080p HD movie.

While a number of WiGig use cases are emerging, to-date the technology has been most heavily marketed as an HDMI replacement solution.  This would enable users to wirelessly transmit high-definition audio and video from a WiGig-enabled tablet or game console to a compatible HDTV. However, it is important to note that not all WiGig-enabled devices will offer backwards compatibility with traditional Wi-Fi networks, emphasizing the importance of creating a distinct WiGig brand to avoid potential confusion. 802.11ad IC manufacturers could be better positioned by offering dual or tri-band solutions, enabling both WiGig and Wi-Fi connectivity.

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