Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

As smart devices in the home multiply, so does the need for Wi-Fi. Cisco reports that, through 2021, data routed via Wi-Fi to mobile devices will grow 48 percent a year. Several ideas to meet the demand have been proposed. Some have suggested putting a router in every room or floor of the house; most routers already connect to the cloud to optimize the network. Another idea is for the user to rent Wi-Fi through his or her cable company. Yet another is WiGig, whereby smart devices themselves would provide bandwidth.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, with regard to renting Wi-Fi through the cable company, “Comcast has announced a deal with Plume to eventually offer the system to its customers,” and “Eero chief executive Nick Weaver says his company has its own partnerships in the works.”

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Plume chief executive Fahri Diner reports that his company is also “working with wireless chip designers” on a WiGig-empowered network that could enable the user’s connected speaker or smart TV to become a network node. That means, the user’s “network could grow stronger as you add more devices to it.” With standards in place, connecting devices “may be seamless,” and it would dramatically speed-up and empower capabilities, from 4K video to virtual reality.

WiGig, also known as 802.11ad, is “capable of sending and receiving data at up to 8 gigabits a second — almost six times as much as the current peak,” but, to do so, operates at 60GHz, “far higher in frequency than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that we normally access.” As a result, says Peraso Technologies chief executive Ron Glibbery, “60Ghz radio waves can’t penetrate most walls” but rather create “cones” of high-speed connectivity, useful for VR and in crowded environments such as airports.

Netgear and TP-Link already make Wi-Fi routers that support WiGig, and Acer makes a WiGig-comapatible laptop. AnandTech reports, however, that Intel has “announced plans to altogether discontinue their 802.11ad products.” Intel’s current WiGig products “were designed primarily for notebook dockings” and aimed at B2B customers. The company asked its partners “to place their final orders on its WiGig-supporting network cards, antenna and sink by September 29” this year and, “the final shipments will be made by December 29.”

AnandTech surmises that Intel “has a relatively limited amount of customers using the WiGig products and it does not expect them to be interested in the devices in 2018 and onwards.” WiGig, it adds, “has never seen any adoption in mass-market laptops, displays and other devices.”

Because “the WiGig ecosystem has so far failed to become truly comprehensive … [it] has never actually competed against Thunderbolt 3 or even USB 3.1 Gen 2.” Intel has not disclosed “whether they have plans to introduce any new WiGig products for laptops or tablets, but they say they will be continuing their 802.11ad work with a focus on VR headsets.”

HTC and Intel demonstrated a wireless HTC Vive headset based on WiGig technology, and other companies “have been trying to use the millimeter wave radio technology to build wireless VR headsets.”