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Wireless Gigabit set to become next-gen Wi-Fi?

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The Wireless Gigabit Alliance, developer of a wireless data technology that operates in the 60GHz band, has signed up the Wi-Fi Alliance to manage its hardware interoperability programme. The move positions WiGig as a key candidate for the next version of Wi-Fi.

Wireless Gigabit - aka WiGig - delivers data transfer speeds of up to 7Gb/s. The use of the 60GHz frequency means WiGig's range is limited - up to 10m, the Alliance says - though as the gap between base station and client increases, the data rate steps down.

The technology already has a connection with Wi-Fi: it's designed to smoothly switch over to 802.11n in the 5GHz or 2.4GHz bands when the 60GHz link fails. That requires closely connected hardware, of course, and paves the way for "tri-band devices" - kit that will connect using any available band as necessary.

Wi-Fi interoperability is an optional part of the WiGig specification.

WiGig Alliance executives said the move to involve the Wi-Fi Alliance was based on the latter's long experience and proven ability to manage interoperability and certification programmes.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is also an experienced marketer of wireless technology, but WiGig executives would not say how WiGig is to be promoted, or if the Wi-Fi Alliance will ultimately adopt their technology as the basis for a future form of Wi-Fi.

It would make sense if it did, given WiGig's ability to support backward compatibility with today's Wi-Fi hardware and the fact that the Wi-Fi brand is well established in the minds of consumers and is synonymous with wireless computing.

WiGig is backed by the likes of AMD, Intel, Dell, Nokia, Samsung, Toshiba, Panasonic, NEC, Microsoft and Nvidia and Intel, along with wireless chip specialists Atheros, Broadcom, Texas Instruments and Realtek.

Networking giant Cisco has signed up too: it takes a place on the WiGig Alliance board of directors today.

The WiGig 1.0 spec is available now to Alliance members and registered adopters. ®

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