Wireless Gigabit spec published, gains Cisco support

Super-fast networking technology could replace cables between PCs, monitors and TVs

The group developing a super-fast wireless data technology that can transmit data up to 10 times as fast as today's fastest Wi-Fi published its initial specification on Monday and named Cisco as the latest backer of the technology.

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance has been developing the technology, dubbed "WiGig," for a year. It will use unlicensed spectrum around 60GHz and should be able to attain transmission speeds of around 6Gbps when in use.

The technology is designed to replace cables for jobs such as delivering high-definition video streams to monitors and sending data between a laptop PC and its docking station. It's not intended to compete with Wi-Fi, which operates at lower speeds in different frequency bands.

On Monday the group published a specification for the technology, which includes support for tri-band devices that maintain compatibility with current Wi-Fi devices that operate in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency ranges.

It also began offering equipment makers the chance to sign-up as "adopters" of the technology. Doing so would enable them access to the specification so they could begin developing WiGig products. The first compatible products are due sometime in 2011.

The WiGig Alliance already includes some big names in the wireless and networking industries such as Intel, Broadcom and Atheros Communications. The addition of Cisco will give the technology a boost as the industry searches for a common standard for the 60GHz frequency space.

Currently the biggest competitor in the 60GHz is Wireless HD, a technology developed by big-name consumer electronics companies for pushing digital high-definition video between TVs and other home electronics.

"With this announcement today, and with our new partnership with the Wi-Fi Alliance, we are one step closer to fulfilling our vision of a unified 60 GHz ecosystem," said Ali Sadri, president and chairman of the WiGig Alliance, in a statement. "We welcome all companies to join with us as we continue to drive the industry forward."

The chunk of spectrum available for the technologies is wide at around 7GHz in the U.S. But a standard is viewed as important because competing systems battling for the same frequencies could cause interference that would bring down the speed of networks.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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