Wi-Fi Spec Offers P2P Connections

Like Bluetooth, the Wi-Fi Direct standard will enable peer-to-peer device connections without the need for a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Marin Perez, Contributor

October 14, 2009

2 Min Read

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced a new specification Wednesday that will enable smartphones, laptops, and other electronics to connect to each other without the use of a traditional Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Wi-Fi Direct specification will enable devices to create peer-to-peer connections that have similar data transfer speeds and range as typical Wi-Fi. The alliance said the new standard will be faster than existing ad-hoc modes, and it could be used to enable laptops to quickly connect to a printer, as well as for consumer-oriented purposes like peer-to-peer game machine connections. Wi-Fi Direct devices will also be able to connect with existing Wi-Fi certified devices for one-to-one connections, or several devices can connect simultaneously.

The alliance, anticipating that devices with the new specification could find their way into corporations, has built in some security features such WPA2, as well as management options to ensure Wi-Fi direct devices don't become insecure bridges between the corporate infrastructure and other networks. The alliance expects to begin certifying Wi-Fi Direct devices in 2010.

"Wi-Fi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications quickly and easily among devices, even when a Wi-Fi access point isn't available," said Edgar Figueroa, executive director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, in a statement. "The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise."

The new specification has the potential to displace other peer-to-peer connection standards, but other wireless transfer protocols have been boosting their features. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has shown off the Bluetooth 3.0 standard, which offers faster transfer speeds than previous versions. Near-field communication is also gaining steam as a viable way to implement mobile payment systems, and Sony's TransferJet protocol offers wireless transfer speeds of up to 560 Mbps between devices.

This bMighty Webcast explores how midsize businesses can keep their laptops secure. It happens Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. Find out more and register.

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