For cordless VR and more, WiGig may be worth the wait

The Wi-Fi Alliance is finally certifying high-speed, short-range WiGig products

The stars are finally aligned for WiGig, an ultra-fast, short-range wireless network that took a long time to become a reality.

On Monday, the Wi-Fi Alliance launched a certification process for WiGig products, which will go as fast as 8Gbps (bits per second) and could include virtual-reality headsets and high-speed office Wi-Fi zones.

The technology was announced in 2009 and is based on a standard, IEEE 802.11ad, that’s now available in some shipping products. But the official WiGig logo will assure buyers that networks and devices from different vendors can work together out of the box. That’s a crucial issue for almost anyone investing in network gear.

WFA, which took over WiGig in 2013, had planned to start approving products that year. But technical challenges that come with communication over extremely high frequencies took extra time, said Kevin Robinson, WFA’s vice president of marketing. Also, WFA had to wait until there was a broad array of different products to test for interoperability, he said.

But this may prove to be good timing. Compelling uses for WiGig’s high speed and low latency have only begun to emerge in the past year or so, said Tirias Research analyst Jim McGregor.

“Sometimes technology leads the application, and in a lot of ways this was a technology looking for an application,” McGregor said.

Virtual reality is one such application. Connecting a high-definition head-mounted display to a PC without a cable requires the kind of multigigabit speed and low latency (below 10 milliseconds) that the new network can offer. Unwiring the HMD helps give users more freedom of movement, a critical factor in VR gaming and other experiences.

“There’s this huge desire to eliminate that cord,” McGregor said.

WiGig can act like a Wi-Fi wireless LAN, too, except over a shorter distance of about 10 meters. Wi-Fi networks can hand users off to WiGig, and vice versa, so workers can automatically get the capacity they need to do work in a crowded meeting or stream video to a big conference-room display.

Other applications may include wireless docking, high-speed gaming and multimedia streaming between devices. Mobile operators could use it for high-capacity links between cells and wired networks, another quickly emerging use as cellular use increases.

The emerging technology behind WiGig is millimeter-wave wireless, a set of techniques that let networks send data over higher frequencies than have ever been used in mainstream networking. WiGig uses the 60GHz band, home to a wide swath of spectrum that’s unlicensed, just like the channels used by Wi-Fi. The cellular world is also eyeing millimeter-wave bands, including 60GHz, for future 5G networks.

To connect at frequencies that high, wireless developers are taking the beam-forming, multiple-antenna technologies used in things like IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi to another level. The tightly focused signals these networks create could help to prevent WiGig and cellular from clashing if they’re both used in the same area, WFA’s Robinson said.

Vendors can start submitting products for testing immediately. A handful of products and reference designs from companies including Dell, Intel and Qualcomm have already been certified. It’s likely that many of the 802.11ad products already on sale will be submitted and certified, Robinson said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?