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5/10/2010
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Wi-Fi, WiGig To Deliver 60 GHz Wireless

A partnership between the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance paves the way for a new crop of wireless devices that will operate in the 2.4, 5 and 60 GHZ bands.

The Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance announced Monday that they will cooperate on multi-gigabit wireless schemes that are likely to bring robust wireless networking from the 60 GHz frequency band to consumers whose devices are equipped with Wi-Fi.

The partnership will pave the way for new wireless devices that will operate in the 2.4, 5 and 60 GHZ bands. In the highest rates, transfer rates of 7 Gbps can be achieved, although they likely will be available only in short distances within room-sized areas. The highest rates will be more than 10 times faster than 802.11n.

The Wi-Fi Alliance indicated that many older Wi-Fi devices -- and possibly all of them -- will be backward compatible with the new 60 GHz architecture.

“60 GHz device connectivity will be an exciting enhancement to the capabilities of today’s Wi-Fi technologies,” said Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa, in a statement. “From its inception, the WiGig specification was designed to work on a wide variety of devices, making it a compelling input.”

The two trade associations share many of the same members. On Monday it was announced that networking giant Cisco had joined the WiGig Alliance Board of Directors. Bob Friday, director of strategic initiatives of Cisco’s Wireless Business Unit said, “Cisco sees 60 GHz technology as an important option in the evolution of wireless LANs in the enterprise, small business and home.”

The combination of Wi-Fi with WiGig could give the new partnership a leg up on competing wireless schemes, because it is nearly ubiquitous. Another wireless scheme running in the 60 GHz band -- WirelessHD -- has already been accepted by many device makers interested in developing streaming video applications. WirelessHD claims an output of 28 Gbps. Bluetooth developers could also adopt one or both of the 60 GHz approaches.

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