July 10, 2014 — Recently I had a chat with an old friend and contemporary, Theodore Rappaport. Many of you may know of him. He is the founder and director of NYU Wireless and holds professorships in electrical engineering, computer science and radiology at New York University. I think he is the Stephen Hawking of RF.
Concerning the future of Wi-Fi and other communications protocols, he indicated that much of tomorrow’s communications will be in the millimeter wave bands where extremely wide bandwidths are available. He said, there will be “unparalleled wireless communications” in the gigahertz spectrum. There is spectrum at 28 GHz, 38 GHz and 72 GHz, even up to 150 GHz where wideband channels are availed for use with advanced coding schemes that will offer high throughput and high security.
Well, it seems that Qualcomm agrees. They recently announced acquisition of Wilocity, a California startup that make chips for next-gen Wi-Fi connectivity. The technology, called WiGig (802.11ad), offers multi-gigabit Internet connectivity. Using the 60 GHz spectrum, there is a downside though, the cost for amazing data speeds is penetration. We all know that the higher we go in frequency, the more the signal is blocked by impediments such as walls, trees, vehicles, and the like.
So WiGig isn’t likely to be a primary Wi-Fi platform, rather a support technology for application such as classrooms or conventions – areas where there is a lot of open space, where the signal can propagate freely, but it will need to be backhauled from the WiGig network to a more traditional network. Nonetheless, ABI Research forecasts that 1.4 billion chipsets will ship in 2016 with 60 GHz capability (along with 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and Markets and Markets research firm puts the WiGig equipment market at $10.53 billion by 2019.
WiGig’s short range and wide bandwidth will make superfast wireless syncing possible for docking station connections to mobiles and tablets eliminating the need for connectors into digital devices. Connectivity would also be available for wireless displays, distributed peripherals and Internet access for multiple laptops, according to Blu Wireless Technology.
Ernest Worthman is editor, Small Cells magazine