Qualcomm Buys Wilocity for 60 GHz WiFi

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,

DASH7 Alliance Announces M2M Standard

The DASH7 Alliance, a non-profit industry consortium that promotes wireless sensor networking standards, today announced the public release of the DASH7 Alliance Protocol.

DASH7, an open source wireless sensor networking standard, competes with Zigbee (900MHz/2.4GHz), Z-Wave (900 MHz), Bluetooth (2.4GHz), WiFi (2.4/5 GHz), and Low Power UWB for machine to machine communications, but features multi-kilometer range, excellent penetration of walls, floors, and water, operates on extremely low power and features multi-year battery life with a maximum bitrate of 200kbps.

Operating in the license-free 433.92 MHz spectrum, DASH7 offers multi-kilometer range, multi-year battery life, sensor and security support, as well as tag-to-tag communications, achieved through ad hoc-synchronized communications. The new protocol is built on the IEC 18000-7 standard and provides seamless interoperability.

“A distinct capability of the protocol provides for both infrastructure to endpoints (RFID tags) and endpoint-to-endpoint communications, while operating from a battery and maintaining low power operation”, said Michael Andre, chairman of the Dash7 Alliance.

Near Field Communication is a short-range wireless technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimeter (around 4 inches) distance using globally available and unlicensed 13.56 MHz, with a bandwidth of 14 kHz.

Contactless payment systems use RFID for making secure payments. Phones featuring Near Field Communications combine the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. They have been used in Asia for many years.

According to the independent wireless analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of cellular network connections worldwide used for M2M communication was 47.7 million in 2008. The company forecasts that the number of M2M connections will grow to 187 million by 2014.

The risk inside a credit card with RF-ID may be real, according to this report. A tinfoil hat for your credit cards might be a good idea.

Other RFID articles on Dailywireless include; DASH7 Begins Certification Program, DASH7: Sensing On The Move, Phones Become Wallet, Tires Hacked, GSM Broken, RFID Distance Record Smashed, Tracking al-Qaeda, Tracking Soldiers, Satellite RFID Tag, Adidas MiCoach Vs Nike+, Inmarsat: $1B for New Sats, Social Bicycles: Cheaper Bike Sharing

802.11ah: WiFi Standard for 900MHz

WiFi is preparing to ride the unlicensed 900 MHz band, reports EE Times. Chips for the upcoming IEEE 802.11ah standard are expected to hit the market starting in 2015. They will have to compete with numerous other protocols for home and building automation in the unlicensed 900 MHz band, including Zigbee and Z-wave.

The 802.11 standard is the most broadly used form of wireless local-area networking. IEEE has already developed a 1 Gbps standard for 5 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac) and a 7 Gbps standard for the 60 GHz band (802.11ad). Those compete against other protocols for home video connectivity.

While 2.4 GHz WiFi commonly uses a total of three 20 MHz channels (in the available 85 MHz of spectrum), the 802.11ah standard uses a more restricted 902-928 MHz band (in the United States).

The new 802.11ah standard allows twenty-six 1MHz channels or thirteen 2MHz channels. In Japan, the available band is within 916.5-927.5 MHz, with eleven 1MHz channels. In China the available band will be within 755-787 MHz, with thirty-two 1 MHz channels.

EE Times says the spec aims to support a range of options from throughput of 150 Kbits/s with a 1 MHz band to as much as 40 Mbits/s over an 8 MHz band. Distances supported could be about 50 percent longer than those of the streamlined 802.11n products now targeting the sector with throughput up to 72 Mbits/s.

The main use of 802.11ah is expected to be sensor networking. It will not use the TV white space bands (54-698 MHz in the US), which are instead targeted by the IEEE 802.11af standard.

A first vote on the 802.11ah standard could come as early as the end of September, says EE Times, although a final standard is not expected until January 2016. That makes 2014 the time frame for development of new silicon for end nodes and access points.

A host of companies have been working on the .11ah spec led by a Qualcomm engineer who chairs the group. Other participants come from companies including Broadcom, Huawei, Intel, LG, Marvell, NEC, Samsung, and ZTE.

The PHY transmission in IEEE 802.11ah is an OFDM waveform consisting of a total of 64 tones/sub-carriers which are spaced by 31.25 kHz. The modulations supported include BPSK, QPSK and 16 to 256 QAM. It will support multi user MIMO and single user beam forming.

As many as a dozen 900 MHz protocols are now crowded into the space of building and home control networks. “That’s the biggest problem — you need separate hubs or base stations for each of them, and that means extra costs, and if you add IP to these devices there are more costs,” according to Adam Lapede, a senior director of product management at Qualcomm Atheros.

The .11ah standard is expected to deliver up to 10-20 Mbits/s around the home. It will also help WiFi vendors extend into large building networks supporting up to 8,000 connections.

In another interesting wrinkle, Amazon plans to test terrestrial low-power service (TLPS) which would use both the upper 2.4 GHz unlicensed band and Globalstar’s terrestrial-use spectrum (2473-2495 MHz). The idea is to take the upper 2.4 GHz unlicensed band that isn’t now available for Wi-Fi, and combine it Globalstar’s terrestrial-use spectrum, creating a new service operating on 2473-2495 MHz.

Engineer Steve Crowley says they apparently plan to use 50 Linksys WRT54GL access points, 10 Ubiquity UniFi access points, 10 Ubiquity XR2 client cards, and 10 Ubiquity SR-71-12 client cards.

Meanwhile, Google plans an experimental license to use the 2524-2546 MHz and 2567-2625 MHz bands. Those frequencies are owned by Clearwire, a company that Google had invested in until last year. That’s a lot of unpaired bandwidth (40 MHz & 58 MHz) respectively.

Google is also taking over the Starbucks Wi-Fi network from AT&T, while nationwide cable Wi-Fi networks are linking up as well, using Hotspot 2.0 for seamless roaming between systems.

Free Mobile, a French carrier, has built a mobile network using Wi-Fi hotspots provided by its wireline broadband subscribers, and has proven to be a success.

Carriers and cellular will become the mortar while Wi-Fi will be the bricks“,” said David Morken, CEO of Bandwidth.com, which owns Republic Wireless, a Wi-Fi-based phone network.

Anyfi wants to turn any Wi-Fi access point into a virtual extension of mobile networks. The Swedish startup has raised $1.5 million to enable the construction of large Wi-Fi networks that would allow operators to easily build hybrid cellular-Wi-Fi networks like the ones deployed by France’s Free Mobile and by Japan’s Softbank.

Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft may be angling for spectrum. Combining higher frequencies (2.4-2.6 GHz) with lower frequencies (600 MHz-900 MHz) might be one strategy to deliver always on connectivity. It could also be useful for M2M devices like watches and headgear that don’t require high speed connectivity.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Amazon & Globalstar Test Wireless Service, Enterprise-grade Firmware for Community WiFi Networks, Community Wireless Summit, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Carrier WiFi Moves Ahead, Municipal Broadband: Here We Go Again, AT&T Can’t Give Away Their Muni WiFi Net, Top Ten Municipal WiFi Stories of the Decade

WiDi: Dead Tech?

Intel is flogging their WiDi technology (pronounced like “Wi-Fi”) at CES again this year. This week Intel announce collaborations with settop chip makers Cavium, Mstar, Sigma Designs, Realtek, Wondermedia and others.

Intel’s WiDi uses WiFi to transmit HDTV using a special feature of Intel Core CPU-based computers and the company’s WiFi chips. It allows a laptop to instantly connect to a big screen television, showing YouTube clips, DVD and Blu-ray movies, presentations or Word documents.

With integration into a settop box, the $50-$100 WiDi receiver could be eliminated. A standalone box could be eliminated if it were built into televisions. Intel could then offer direct streaming from a desktop, laptop or tablet using 802.11n WiFi.

But the window on WiDi could be closing.

Next generation WiFi, using the 802.11ac standard, can stream nearly 1 Gbps on the 5 GHz band – no proprietary compression required. With WiFi-enabled Roku boxes, now shrunk to the size of a dongle, settop boxes are becoming invisible – and they can be controlled with a handy remote control. Roku’s platform currently supports over 400 channels, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Pandora, MLB.TV, HBO Go, MOG, and Rdio.

The WirelessHD specification is based on a 7 GHz channel in the 60 GHz band. It is incorporated into the 802.11ad standard and allows for either compressed (H.264) or uncompressed digital transmission of high-definition video and audio and data signals, essentially making it equivalent of a wireless HDMI.

Quantenna: 802.11ac Chipset

Quantenna, an innovator in 4×4 MIMO Wi-Fi, today announced the world’s first 802.11ac solution providing gigabit-speed Wi-Fi using their QAC2300 chipset. Using 4×4 multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology, Quantenna says their chip will enable bandwidth-intensive consumer electronics applications such has home video in wireless routers, access points, and high-end consumer electronics devices.

The QAC2300 two-chip solution is the first to support the latest, fastest version of WiFi — 802.11ac. The new IEEE standard was developed to deliver Gigabit speeds and generally uses four 20 MHz channels in the 5 Ghz WiFi bands.

It’s downwardly compatible with previous WiFi standards such as 802.11n (above).

By combining its 4×4 MIMO capabilities with 802.11ac, Quantenna is pursuing whole-home video distribution with products that will deliver gigabit-wireless speeds during 2012. Quantenna will be showcasing its 802.11ac chipset at the 2012 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 10-13, 2012.

The 802.11ac draft, also known as 802.11 VHT (Very High Throughput), uses the existing 5 GHz Wi-Fi band with wide 80 MHz or 160 MHz channels, improved modulation, and simultaneous multi-user MIMO for throughputs above 1 Gbps.

Next would come 802.11ad, which would add the unlicensed 60 GHz band to Wi-Fi. According to Ali Sadri, Director of the Intel Mobile Wireless Group and Chairman of the WiGig Alliance, WiGig has been confirmed as the baseline specification for draft 802.11ad.

The potential unification of Wi-Fi with 60 GHz in the form of 802.11ad would allow 60 GHz to build on the installed base of Wi-Fi networks. WiGig has developed profiles for wireless HDMI, DisplayPort, USB, and PCIe interfaces. WiGig supports HDCP 2.0 content protection.

According to the In-Stat report released in February 2011, 802.11ac-enabled device shipments will soar to nearly 1 billion by 2015. The 802.11ac standard expands on the broad frequency bands and multiple-antenna capabilities of 802.11n to deliver the speed and performance that consumers need from retail devices, while retaining backward-compatibility with 802.11n.

Fast Transistion to 802.11ac Predicts ABI

IEEE 802.11ac will emerge as the dominant Wi-Fi protocol by 2014, according to ABI Research. Only a niche subset of 802.11ac will be single-band 802.11ac, using solely the five GHz band. Most will be 802.11n/802.11ac dual-band chipsets.

ABI Research’s latest report, “Wi-Fi Chipset Evolution: From 802.11n to 802.11ac and 802.11ad,” covers the Wi-Fi chipset market’s transition from 802.11n to 802.11ac and 802.11ad. WiFi today is dominated by 802.11n, which can use multiple channels and multiple antennas on both the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz unlicensed bands.

In-Stat says 53 million consumer-electronics devices allowed for connectivity to wireless-N networks last year. That figure is expected to jump to 82 million next year and nearly 300 million in 2015. But 802.11n maxes out at 600Mbps – not fast enough for uncompressed HDTV.

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: 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.
  • WiGig: A variant of 802.11ad, designed specifically for streaming high-definition video. The Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig Alliances will cooperate on the 60 GHz technology. WiGig may deliver data transfer rates up to 7 Gbit/s and has become an adopter of HDMI for wireless video connections.
  • Wireless HD: A trade group led by SiBeam, allows for either compressed (H.264) or uncompressed digital transmission of high-definition video and audio and data signals, essentially making it equivalent of a wireless HDMI. The WirelessHD specification has provisions for content encryption via Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP). SiBEAM was acquired by Silicon Image in April 2011

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

ABI says Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm Atheros, and Texas Instruments will transition as fast as possible, with smaller vendors attempting to grow their market share during the transition.

While 802.11ad products have been announced with a Qualcomm Atheros and Wilocity partnership leading the way, 802.11ad will not reach the 50 percent mark until 2016. Qualcomm sampled their AR9004TB chipset this summer and expects to see products in the retail space in the first half of 2012. It is the first chip to offer multi-gigabit Wi-Fi, dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, which is the latest specification of the protocol, including both high-speed and low-energy operation

Because of their lower cost, 802.11n and 802.11ac chipsets with 1X1 will remain dominant until 2015, says ABI, when they will be surpassed by both 2X2 and 3X3 chipsets. 2X2 chipsets for mobile devices that can fall back to 1X1 will be indispensable to enabling this transition.

“With the exception of a small and dwindling number of 802.11g chipsets, everything has already shifted to 802.11n, and it has happened faster than most people expected. This is a clear indication of what will happen with 802.11ac,” explains Philip Solis, research director, mobile networks. “The 1×1 version of 802.11n replaced 802.11g. A rapid transition will occur with 802.11ac, but without the messy politics that slowed down the standardization of 802.11n in the past.”

Cable settop boxes and televisions will be among the first devices to use 60 GHz Wi-Fi. Motorola has a more than 30 percent market share of cable TV set-top boxes (STB), so a Motorola/Google settop box with 802.11ad may be a possibility. Cisco is the other major cable box player in the United States. Cisco bought Scientific Atlanta in 2005 while Motorola bought General Instruments in 2007.