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Qualcomm Completes Wilocity Deal, WiGig Gains Steam
Posted July 7, 2014
Qualcomm Completes Wilocity Deal, WiGig Gains Steam
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By Barry Levine. Updated July 7, 2014 10:49AM

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WiGig, with speeds as much as 10 times faster than today's Wi-Fi, may be gaining momentum. That prospect is being raised following word that Qualcomm announced late last week that it has completed acquisition of WiGig developer Wilocity.

Based in Israel, Wilocity has been working on 60 GHz wireless chipsets based on the IEEE 802.11ad standard, otherwise known as WiGig. Terms of the acquisition were not announced, although news reports pegged the price as about $300 million. For the past half-dozen years, Qualcomm has been an investor in Wilocity, and it also has been involved since 2011 in the development and distribution of tri-band wireless solutions. Up to now, WiGig has been available in only a handful of products.

Additionally, Qualcomm said that it is delivering a tri-band platform for devices. The tri-band platform is currently a reference design for the first mobile platform for WiGig, based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. The tri-band platform includes Wi-Fi and WiGig from Qualcomm's Atheros subsidiary.

7 Gigabits Per Second

Amir Faintuch, president of Qualcomm Atheros, said in a statement that, by combining multi-gigabit speeds and low energy use, "WiGig technology will strengthen Qualcomm Atheros' connectivity leadership and create exciting new experiences that will accelerate the commercialization and adoption of 802.11ad technology."

Qualcomm said applications for this very high-speed wireless, as fast as 7 gigabits per second, could include 4K video streaming, peer-to-peer content sharing, and backing up entire libraries in seconds. It also offers increased capacity for the network and increased power efficiency.

Peter Jarich, vice president for consumer and infrastructure at industry research firm Current Analysis, pointed out to us that WiGig, a Wi-Fi Alliance specification, is not a new thing. "What's new here," he said, "is the involvement of Qualcomm, [which] holds the potential to make WiGig bigger than it's been and drive up those data rates."

Atmospheric Absorption

He added that "anything related to delivering significantly more bandwidth in the mobile access layer needs to be seen through the eyes of 5G standards setting. In other words, this would also be seen as part of a move towards prepping for 5G."

Gartner's Akshay Sharma said that, "at these extremely high frequencies, in-building penetration is an issue, so this will likely be for local multi-gigabit wireless connectivity between any two devices, such as connection to storage and other high-speed peripherals, like video devices for wireless HDMI connections." Over longer ranges, he noted, "atmospheric absorption is an issue."

One competitive standard, Sharma said, is the WirelessHD specification, based on a 7 GHz channel in the 60 GHz frequency, and it "boasts members like Intel, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Philips Electronics, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba."

He said that WiGig, however, "has the advantage as it's now part of the 802.11 standard as an amendment, with the WiFi Alliance involved in promotion and certification."

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