WiGig: A Cure for Living-Room Cable Clutter?

By  |  Friday, May 8, 2009 at 12:03 am

Dell, Intel, Microsoft, and Panasonic are forming an industry consortium called WiGig Alliance that will create a new high-speed wireless specification for PCs and devices capable of transmitting the contents of a DVD across a living room within a matter of seconds.

WiGig transmits data at 6 gigabits per second–far beyond the maximum transfer capacity of today’s Wi-Fi networks. In comparison to Wi-Fi, WiGig has a limited range and cannot work across a large household.

Instead of wiring the entire home, WiGig would be used to connect an ecosystem of home entertainment devices such as set top boxes and Blu-ray players, in addition to networking digital video cameras and cell phones. It is backed by a cadre of companies ranging from chipmakers including Broadcom, Marvell, and MediaTek to consumer electronics companies such as LG Electronics, NEC, and Samsung.

The WiGig Alliance will likely compete with Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDi), a specification that was designed by another group of companies for the same purpose. It should also supercede WirelessHD (which Intel also supports), a specification that is limited to connecting TVs with DVD players.

Something like WiGig will play a critical role in the evolution of the digital home. The tangle of wires that we have all grown accustomed to should become a relic of the past. As more people upgrade to broadband services and digital cable, the alphabet soup of acronyms that exists today will be whittled down to a few core standards.

I hope that the ultimate WiGig specification is open when it is published, and caution against adopting the technology if it is not. A consortium does not count as a standards body. There could be clear, affordable and nondiscriminatory licensing terms for its use in devices and software. Ideally, WiGig should be submitted to a standards body such as ISO International.

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