Qualcomm has just completed the acquisition of Wilocity, a company which has been developing high speed 60GHz wireless chipsets based on the IEEE 802.11ab standard. The technology is known as WiGig, and can apparently offer transfer speeds of up to 7 gigabits per second over short distances of around 10 meters, which is much faster than the comparatively paltry hundreds of megabits per second available over WiFi. Along with greater bandwidth, WiGig also offers improvements in power efficiency and capacity.
However, WiGig does not offer range as long as a traditional WiFi network and can’t really penetrate walls, let alone offer coverage comparable to that of a cellular network. So don’t expect this technology to offer superfast data speeds wherever you are. Instead, WiGig is more suited to replace physical cables, allowing consumers to stream large files and ultra-high definition content to nearby devices with very low latency. For example, sending a 4K video from your phone to your TV.
As a side note, Google also recently purchased Alpental Technologies, a company which was working on a similar 60GHz band communication technology. Although not directly suitable for long range wireless communications, the idea of using faster small cell network hotspot to improve overall mobile network speeds is an idea that has been in discussion for a while, and could play a role in future wireless communication standards as well.
Back to Qualcomm, the company is set to integrate the WiGig standard into its upcoming hardware, as early as the upcoming ARMv8 Snapdragon 810 mobile SoC. Qualcomm’s new tri-band WiFi solution will integrate traditional 2.4GHz and 5Ghz 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless networking with the new WiGig 60GHz band, to create a seamless multi-speed system with variable speeds depending on the distance and type of device that the user is connecting too.
The first Snapdragon 810 mobile devices are not expected to appear until sometime in early or mid-2015. Other vendors are looking at integrating similar technologies in the near future as well. You can check out more information on the WiGig standard right here.