WiGig, a new buzzword in the communications industry, is quickly making its way into consumer devices. Originally, WiGig represented an industry organization called the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, which became a part of the WiFi Alliance in March 2013. The WiGig specification lets devices communicate wirelessly at multi-gigabit speeds. It also enables high-performance wireless data, display, and audio applications to supplement the capabilities of previous-generation wireless LAN devices.
WiGig-enabled devices operate in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 60 GHz bands. They can deliver data transfer rates up to 7 Gbit/s while maintaining compatibility with other WiFi devices. However, WiGig is not intended as a WiFi replacement. It's a short-range technology that can operate up to 10 m. When the first devices with the embedded WiGig chip enter the marketplace this year, the technology will make it possible to share files immediately from device to device at an impressive speed of about 1 Gbit/s.
Once WiGig devices hit mass production, there will no way to stop them. Frost & Sullivan predicts that there will be 1.2 million WiGig devices by the end of 2014 and 1.5 billion by 2017.
In September, the WiFi Alliance set up a certification process for the 60 GHz-based WiGig technology that would originate with a certification brand and corresponding certification process signifying interoperability between devices. The alliance also introduced the "WiGig Certified" brand for products. According to the alliance, such products are expected to provide "multi-gigabit speed, low latency traffic, and security-protected connectivity between nearby devices." In addition, the WiGig standard is being developed to provide short-range, multi-gigabit connectivity for high-definition display extensions, peripheral connectivity, input/output cable replacement, and other applications.
A Wilocity WiGig chip mounted on a board.
Since the industry is clearly moving toward WiGig, the entire supply chain is expected to work together to bring this technology into consumer devices. Cisco Systems, for instance, and Wilocity, the first chipset maker to launch and support WiGig/802.11ad products in volume production, recently announced that they are working together to develop 60 GHz enterprise networking products supporting transmission speeds of 5 Gbit/s. The new technology is based on the IEEE 802.11ad standard for ultra-fast in-building networks and will eventually be certified by the WiFi Alliance under the name WiGig.
WiGig offers tremendous opportunities for test equipment companies, especially in R&D, manufacturing, and eventually field applications where device testing becomes critical to ensure quality of service (QoS) on the devices and networks. Thus, conformance and interoperability testing will be very much in demand to ensure WiGig standard conformance.
Companies such as Agilent Technologies and Rohde & Schwarz are at the forefront of the test and measurement industry offering solutions testing WiGig and 802.11ad technologies.
As the technology evolves and the communication industry embraces it more and more, more applications will require committed service-level agreements. Testing WiGig becomes a critical instrument to meet these agreements, ensure positive QoS and quality of experience, and prevent customer churn.