A Giga Deal for Qualcomm

Wireless Gigabit Access Going Mainstream


One long-term vision of many smartphone makers is to enable mobile devices to replace other gadgets in the home and office, including laptops, game consoles and media players. Make it convenient enough and phones can take centre stage — a concept that’s fast becoming a reality.

This week, Qualcomm announced the purchase of Wilocity, a company specialising in WiGig chipsets. WiGig, based on the IEEE’s 802.11ad wireless protocol, supports wireless data transfer rates of up to 7 Gbps over the 60 GHz band. This translates into very high data rates over short distances — you’ll be able to fling 4K videos to your television or share them with a friend.

Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 810 system-on-chip — scheduled for release during the first half of 2015 — is expected to support WiGig. Flagship smartphones with wireless gigabit access shouldn’t be too far behind. Smartphones will be able to share and control enormous chunks of media as WiGig-enabled accessories such as wireless USB storage devices, dongles and docking stations become available.

WiGig is also expected to play an important role at the network level. For example, it could become a potential complement to LTE, supporting very broad capacity at compact venues. What WiGig lacks in distance it makes up in mass, so we expect to see base stations with 801.11ad support installed in crowded urban areas and stadiums. Wi-Fi routers for local networks will begin to support tri-band Wi-Fi and WiGig access, with intelligent switching between the 2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz and 60 GHz bands.

It might take a few years, but WiGig will mean fewer cords hanging in the home. Thick HDMI cables could be a thing of the past as television sets, projectors, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes go giga. This is certainly a boost for consumer electronics, but mostly for mobility — smartphones will be front and centre, waiting for other consumer electronics devices to catch up. This could amount to a mega opportunity for mobile operating systems.