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Qualcomm announced today that it is buying gigabit wireless specialist Wilocity in a move that puts the mobile chipmaker firmly behind the new WiGig standard. Qualcomm Atheros has been an investor in Wilocity since 2008 and has worked closely with the startup.

The WiGig IEEE 802.11ad standard adds the 60 GHz band to Wi-Fi and provides data rates up to 7 Gbps between devices. Qualcomm’s initial tri-band platform is a reference design based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, which enables applications such as 4k video streaming. The Snapdragon 810 and 808 processors are anticipated to begin sampling in the second half of 2014 and expected to be available in commercial devices by the first half of 2015.

Tri-band Wi-Fi solutions will integrate the 802.11ad multi-gigabit performance of the 60 GHz band, along with 802.11ac that operates in the 5 GHz band and 802.11b/g/n in the 2.4 GHz band. The drawback is that 60GHz transmissions are easily blocked, and thus the sender and receiver must be in the same room.

The first WiGig chipsets from Qualcomm’s Atheros division will show up in smartphones and other mobile devices next year, said Tal Tamir, former CEO of Wilocity and now VP of product management for Qualcomm/Atheros.

Qualcomm did not reveal a purchase price for the Israeli company, though earlier reports stated the parties were negotiating in the $300 million range.

Here’s a review of evolving WiFi standards:

  • IEEE 802.11n: Increased the maximum raw data rate from 54 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s by using as many as four spatial streams with a double width channel (40 MHz). MIMO architecture and wider channels improved speeds on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz channels.
  • IEEE 802.11ac: Provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band. It uses 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel bandwidths (vs. 40 MHz maximum in 802.11n) and supports up to 8 spatial streams (vs. 4 in 802.11n)
  • IEEE 802.11ad: Now with the WiGig specs folded in, provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band and 60 GHz bands. The 60 GHz band is stopped by walls, so range will be shorter, but the spectrum is wider, supporting nearly 7 Gbps throughput.

The unlicensed 60 GHz band varies slightly around the world. The standard divides the unlicensed 60 GHz band into four 2.16 GHz wide channels. Data rates of up to 7 Gbits/s are possible using OFDM with different modulation schemes. A single-channel version for low-power operation is available and can deliver a speed up to 4.6 Gbits/s.

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) was a trade association that developed and promoted multi-gigabit speed over the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band. The alliance was subsumed by the Wi-Fi Alliance in March 2013.

The IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards may also use Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), where simultaneous streams are transmitted to different users on the same channels.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiGig: 60 GHz WiFi Rolls Out, WiGig to Demo 4K Wireless at Intel Forum, WiGig Folded Into Wi-Fi at 60 GHz, Marvel 802.11ac: Now with 4×4 Beamforming, Fast Transistion to 802.11ac Predicts ABI, Broadcom 802.11ac for Phones, Quantenna: 802.11ac Chipset,

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