Wi-Fi to cultivate speedy 60GHz band

Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig Alliance announce the development of a new, extremely high-speed Wi-Fi standard that operates in the 60GHz frequency and will be used for high-performance devices.

If you still don't know the difference between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands of a simultaneous dual-band router like the Cisco Linksys E3000, you'd better hurry and learn. Another Wi-Fi band is on the way.

The Wi-Fi Alliance and Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig Alliance) announced Monday an agreement on a new standard of multigigabit wireless networking.

Under the agreement, the two groups will co-develop new specifications for the next-generation Wi-Fi standard that works the 60GHz frequency (or band).

Currently, Wi-Fi signals work either in the ever-popular 2.4GHz frequency or the newer 5GHz frequency. The 5GHz is considered cleaner as it doesn't share the same frequency with other wireless home devices such as cordless phones or Bluetooth devices. A dual-band router supports both of them at the same time. Both of these bands offer wireless-N speeds up to 300Mbps, with the possibility of higher speeds up to 750Mbps. In reality, however, these two bands' sustained throughput speeds are still much slower than that of a wired gigabit connection.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the new 60GHz band standard is targeted primarily at applications that require gigabit speeds and is expected to be used in a wide range of high-performance devices. Most, if not all, of these devices are expected to also support traditional Wi-Fi networking in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Though not technically correct, it generally seems in real life that when a Wi-Fi band goes higher in gigahertz, its performance increases while it range gets shorter. The 5GHz band, for example, is significantly faster than the 2.4GHz band but is also that much shorter in range. It's expected to be the same for the 60GHz band: much faster, possibly a few times faster, than a wired gigabit connection, with a much shorter range.

This means it will apply to those who require really high-speed connectivity within short distances, such as between a Blu-ray player and the TV, eliminating the need for the HDMI cable. It seems this new wireless technology will be more suitable for hi-def video streaming between devices in the same room than for portable devices.

To accommodate the new extremely high speed of the 60GHz band, the WiGig specification defines protocols to deliver data transfer rates measured in gigabits rather than megabits and supports a new range of applications and usages. The specification also defines procedures to enable WiGig-compliant devices to hand over sessions to operate in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. It is expected that a new class of tri-band Wi-Fi certified devices will offer multigigabit wireless speeds while remaining backward-compatible with previous specifications.

The new Wi-Fi 60GHz band is expected to be available in consumer products within two years.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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