FAQ: WiGig Alliance wireless technology

The Wireless GigaBit Alliance officially releases its specifications Monday

The fledgling wireless technology WiGig passed an important milestone Monday with the official released of the technology's specifications, giving member companies the green light to start building products based on the protocol. WiGig, developed by the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, is a short-range wireless technology ten times faster than today's 802.11 speeds, capable of downloading a full-length HD movie in about 45 seconds (compared to 45 minutes over Wi-Fi). Products based on the new standard aren't expected to hit store shelves until 2010.

Will WiGig change how we use technology? Its backers promise it will cut down on the number of unwieldy wires associated with home theaters and could put another nail in the coffin of physical media. WiGig will pave the way for the "introduction of the next generation of high-performance wireless products -- PCs, mobile handsets, TVs and displays, Blu-ray disc players, digital cameras, and many more," said Dr. Ali Sadri, president and chairman of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance.

Here's a quick breakdown of what WiGig could mean to you.

What is WiGig?

WiGig is a technology hopes to create a "wireless ecosystem of interoperable, high performance devices that work together seamlessly," according to its backers. The goal is to embed the technology in a host of household components including consumer electronics, handheld devices, and PCs.

WiGig says the standard will enable "instantaneous" file transfers, wireless display and docking, and the streaming high definition audio and video on a variety of devices.

The new standard uses the 60GHz radio band, which allows for much faster data transfer rates than current Wi-Fi technologies that use the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.

Does WiGig compete with Wi-Fi?

No, it doesn't. It complements today's 802.11 Wi-Fi technology. In fact, part of Monday's announcement includes a partnership between the Wireless Gigabit Alliance and the Wi-Fi Alliance, the group in charge of the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard.

The two groups will share their respective technology specifications, and work together on expanding Wi-Fi technologies. Specifically, the two groups will develop a "next-generation Wi-Fi Alliance certification program supporting Wi-Fi operation in the 60GHz frequency band," and focus on "the development of products supporting 60GHz technology to expand existing Wi-Fi capabilities," according to a WiGig Alliance press release

Will WiGig make surfing the Internet faster?

WiGig focuses on faster data transfer speeds between devices. WiGig is not a standard for the actual Internet service that comes into your home. So even if you have a superfast WiGig router, your new connection speeds would only be noticeable when transferring data between WiGig-enabled devices on your home network, and not between your computer and the Internet.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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