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What is WiGig and how does it differ from Wi-Fi 6?



Wi-Fi 6 is on the way, but it's not the fastest wireless technology you can get. WiGig is designed for super-fast speeds over short distances, and an upgraded version will be available in 2019.

WiGig Basics

HTC's Vive Wireless Adapter wirelessly connects a Vive headset to a PC via WiGig.

WiGig transmits data wirelessly on the 60 GHz frequency, unlike Wi-Fi 6 and other "normal" versions of Wi-Fi that use the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequencies.

The 60 GHz frequency is less congested than 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz can transmit more data at once. That means faster data transfer speeds ̵

1; faster Wi-Fi when using WiGig.

Specifically, the current version of WiGig promises speeds of about 5 Gbps in the real world, while Wi-Fi 6 world speeds will likely be more around 2 Gbps. And there's a newer, better version of WiGig, which should be even faster at 10 Gbps.

That sounds great, but there is one drawback. These shorter wavelengths mean that WiGig has a much smaller range. The Wi-Fi Alliance says the current version of WiGig can support beamforming distances of up to 10 meters. However, a WiGig signal can be difficult to overcome walls or other obstacles.

WiGig devices may drop to 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies as needed. But while they're on those frequencies, they do not get WiGigs super-fast speeds.

CONNECTION: Wi-Fi 6: What's different and why it matters

WiGig is 802.11ad and 802.11ay

The ASUS ROG Phone connects wireless with displays via a WiGig-enabled dock.

WiGig was first announced in 2009 by the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, an industry association that promotes this technology. In 2013, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance closed down and took over the Wi-Fi Alliance, the same body that monitors Wi-Fi standards such as Wi-Fi 6. "Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WiGig" is now a Wi-Fi Alliance standard, as is WPA3 security.

The original version of WiGig, released in 2012, uses the 802.11ad standard. It offers speeds of about 5 Gbps over a maximum distance of 10 meters.

A newer, faster 802.11ay standard is planned for 2019, so expect faster WiGig products soon. Qualcomm's Dino Bekis told The Verge that this new standard could be twice as fast and communicate over distances of up to 100 meters. (Note, however, that it's no better to penetrate walls.)

Do not confuse these standards with 802.11ax, which is Wi-Fi 6.

What is WiGig used for? ?

Knots in Facebook's Terragraph network communicate at high speed via WiGig.

WiGig will not replace Wi-Fi 6. Even with the extended range in the newer WiGig standard, WiGig will not be able to walk through walls and other obstacles. You should use two devices that use WiGig in the same space without any obstacles to use WiGig.

Here are some technologies that might use WiGig:

  • A computer could deliver a high power virtual reality headset in the same room, wirelessly. HTC's Vive WiFi adapter today uses WiGig.
  • A smartphone, tablet or computer can stream content wirelessly to a high-definition TV or other monitor in the same room. Asus' ROG Phone can use WiGig with its display dock to wirelessly connect your phone to a big-screen TV.
  • Wireless outdoor access points can communicate over WiGig for super-fast speeds and wireless Internet connections 5G can deliver home Internet. Facebook uses this for its Terragraph project, which provides Internet wirelessly.

WiGig is a much faster way to send data between two devices as long as they are close enough and there are no obstacles in the way. It's a special wireless technology that you would not use for any device – Wi-Fi 6 is more flexible.

RELATED: How 5G Can Transform Your Home Internet Connection

How do I get WiGig?

Imagine WiGig as an optional add-on for Wi-Fi. All devices that support WiGig also support basic standards like WI-Fi 6. But not every Wi-Fi 6 device will include WiGig technology.

If you're interested in this technology, look for devices that offer WiGig support

While the older 802.11ad standard has been around for a while, there are few devices that support it. Devices supporting the 802.11ay standard will be launched in 2019.

The big devices that support WiGig are "self-contained" right now. In other words, you're buying a Vive Wi-Fi adapter and communicating with its own receiver through WiGig. Or you buy an ASUS ROG phone and its dock communicates via WiGig with its own adapter.

Theoretically, one day, you could buy a WiGig-enabled router and a WiGig-enabled laptop while achieving super-fast speeds – but these devices have not appeared on the market yet.

Source: fractal-an / Shutterstock.com.


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