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How WiGig Works

        Tech | Connectivity

More WiGig Uses And Competitors

As we noted previously, WiGig signals aren't meant to travel a long distance. Instead, the signal works best within a single room, bouncing off the walls to reach its intended destination. Some homes may have layouts friendly to a WiGig signal, sending data into nearby rooms, but in most cases the signal will have a one-room range.

WiGig products will transfer data at a minimum speed of 1Gbps at 10 meters (32.8 feet), and theoretical maximum speeds will top out at around 6Gbps. Speeds will vary greatly by device. Handheld, battery-powered products will have lower transfer rates -- close to 1Gbps. Products powered through electrical outlets will have more oomph -- closer to the 6Gbps ceiling.

Final WiGig specifications will be ready sometime in 2009. Mark Grodzinsky, chairman of the marketing working group for the WiGig Alliance, said "When we launched the organization, we messaged that the specification would be completed by the end of the year, and we are still tracking well to that goal."

Once the Alliance puts the final touches on the WiGig specifications, manufacturers can begin creating WiGig products. Under ideal conditions, those manufacturers might be able to start making and selling those products sometime in 2010, although some experts say such a short timeline is overly optimistic.

In the meantime, WiGig backers will be keeping tabs on technologies that may compete or overlap with their developing standard. They'll be particularly interested in WirelessHD, WiMax, WHDi, (Wireless Home Digital Interface) and WiFi standards like 802.11AD and 802.11n.

WirelessHD is another 60GHz standard. This technology was specifically introduced to facilitate video transfer between TV set-top boxes and Blu-ray DVD players, and tops out at speeds of about 4Gbps. There are WirelessHD products available now, but they're not being marketed and pushed by the biggest tech companies.

WiMax is based on the 802.16 standard and for years has promised city-wide Internet access for both stationary and mobile customers. Despite the age of the technology, it's only now being rolled out in some cities. WiMax's biggest advantage is that it covers large geographical areas; in ideal circumstances its signal reaches a radius of 30 miles (48.3 kilometers). And at about 70Mbps, it's fast, but still not as fast as WiGig for heavy-duty multimedia tasks.

WHDi is a 5GHz specification created for the same purpose but uses technology similar to WiFi to perform its tasks; its speeds max out at about 3Gbps. Backers of WHDi say its whole-house range might integrate neatly with WiGig's shorter range and high bandwidth. Likewise, the 802.11 challengers may wind up as collaborators, too. Instead of competing with WiGig, upcoming products may come with WiFi capabilities to increase their distance, but include WiGig, too, for faster transfer when users are in close proximity to an access point.

So will WiGig be the next big innovation in wireless networking? It's too early to say for sure, but homeowners and businesses that depend on high-speed connections will be hoping WiGig can rescue them from their web of wires and help make their multimedia dreams a reality.

For more on wireless Internet technology and related topics, take a look at the links on the next page.