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The new WiGig standard

Wireless networking is very convenient for the computer industry. It doesn't matter whether the network is moving business information or streaming entertainment data; what does matter is networking is still possible even though running wires is not convenient, practical or even possible. For a long time there has been Wi-Fi, the trade name for devices operating within the wireless IEEE 802.11 standard. Now there's WiGig, the name representing a new alliance hoping to soon bring blazing-fast wireless speeds to a network near you.

We first looked at Wi-Fi last September when the IEEE quietly formalized the 802.11n standard. That action brought the wireless networking standard up to a decent level. Not great, but decent enough to keep the standard moving forward. Wi-Fi operates on a frequency of 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz or both which are two unlicensed frequencies that have upsides and downsides. On the upside, the frequencies travel a fair distance while passing through obstacles like walls and floors. On the downside, the frequency spectrum is somewhat narrow and very crowded with competition from other devices, like cordless phones. That limits the throughput of data and therefore the usefulness of the network.

With WiGig, a major shift takes place in wireless networking by tapping into the 57 GHz to 64 GHz frequency range. The use of the higher frequency range provides two real benefits. The range of WiGig will be very limited which is good because it limits interference from other WiGig devices. The large frequency window will allow for data throughput rates as high as ten times the current Wi-Fi standard.

WiGig is not intended to replace Wi-Fi, it will compliment it. By combing the long range aspect of Wi-Fi with the high throughput of WiGig, users will have the throughput previously available only to wired networks.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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