The Marriage Between the Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig: What Does it All Mean?

The ring has been given, the proposal accepted, and the date set. At long last, the relationship between the Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig will take the big step: the WiGig Alliance is going to be folded into the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA).

It’s certainly not like the industry didn’t see this coming. These organizations have been dating for awhile now, and the seriousness of the relationship was clearly demonstrated when the IEEE accepted the WiGig Alliance spec as the draft 802.11ad specification. Since then both WiGig and WFA have been working together very closely, and given the similarities in their charters, the marriage of the two will benefit everyone, from equipment manufacturers to consumers.

How? Below is the full wrap-up of what this merger entails, from a technology and end user perspective.

Certification to Benefit All
With initial specifications developed and only modifications and ratification left, the focus of WiGig is turning to certification. Though that may seem straightforward, building out a network of qualified, endorsed test labs worldwide is actually a daunting task. Add to that marketing yourself so that people understand and respect your organization as a certification and interoperability expert whose logo should be on any equipment purchased, and you’re looking at something that can only be established over years of hard work and flawless execution. That’s what the WFA has already accomplished, and brings to the table, so with this merger WiGig immediately benefits from the many years of WFA success. Now, the 802.11 technologies of both WiGig and WFA will be under the same world-class industry association/interoperability certification. This will speed up the process of specification development, ensure high-quality interoperability test definition, and help to move products from chipmakers, to wireless OEM vendors, to the market much faster, benefiting everyone along the way, especially consumers.

Big Picture of What 802.11ad Will do for You
802.11ad, or WiGig, is a very interesting technology. Though it is firmly based on the same underlying principles as other 802.11 technologies, including a/b/g/n/ac, at the same time it is significantly different from any of the other 802.11 enhancements that have been developed so far. It operates in an entirely different frequency band (60GHz), opening up new possibilities, and new challenges. Whereas all 802.11 technology to date has mainly been used as an underlying network technology, replacing wired TCP/IP networks over specified areas before making the final connection to the wired backbone, 802.11ad is designed to replace wired computer connectivity, like HDMI video connections and USB/PCI-e, with ultra high-speed wireless connections. This will make 802.11ad and “additional” technology rather than an “upgrade” technology, and 11ad and 11a/b/g/n/ac will need to co-exist, with 11ad providing the “local” connectivity (a personal area network if we can revisit that term) and 11a/b/g/n/ac providing the TCP/IP connectivity between local devices and to the wired backbone.

We’ve written about 802.11ad before, and ultimately this new technology will make “the wireless office” a reality. Equipment using 802.11ad will be able to facilitate simultaneous streaming of HD video, provide seamless peer-to-peer syncing, and deliver on the promise of cordless computing.

Interoperability of 802.11ad and Other 802.11 Technologies
It’s because of the coexistence of 802.11ad and other 802.11 technologies that the merger of WiGig and WFA makes so much sense. Not only will 802.11ad equipment need to interoperate, but 802.11ad and other 802.11 networking technology also need to interoperate, so having all of this interoperability certified under a single, respected, and highly-successful organization like the WFA just makes so much sense. This will accelerate the delivery of 802.11ad technology to market, and give it the very best chance for success under a banner that is recognized world-wide, and simply assumed to be a part of all wireless equipment purchases, whether by consumers or by enterprises.

Only time will tell if this move will benefit the wireless industry as a whole, but as you can tell, we have high hopes that it will. Not every marriage hits its diamond, gold, or even silver anniversary, but if the history of the Wi-Fi Alliance is any indicator, we look to a match made in heaven.

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