Prepare to lose a few more wires

Cord cutting is a popular past-time at the moment. This usually means ‘cutting’ the cable TV cord and replacing it with entertainment from the Internet via WiFi, but there is another set of cables about to be replaced that will make a huge impact.

After several years of negotiation, silicon development and extensive testing, the WiGig high speed wireless technology and the IEEE 802.11ad standard is set to take off in 2016. The key to the adoption of this technology is certification, ensuring that any WiGig-certified system will work with any other. With 60GHz, millimetre wave radio and data rates up to 7Gbit/s, this has been a major challenge, but production silicon and fully certified systems are set to launch later this year and be available on the market through 2016.

This will allow the TV cord to be cut, whether it’s the HDMI cable running from a set top box to an Ultra HD 4K TV set, a 4K laptop to a monitor, or mirroring a high resolution display from a smartphone or tablet on the TV in the living room. There are even USB3.0 WiGig dongles being developed that will give laptops ultra-high speed wireless links to networks.

With so many different consumer systems potentially using the technology, certification is essential, and the certification process started in 2013 when the WiGig specification was merged into the WiFi Alliance. This allowed the development of tri-band WiFi transceiver chips that can handle links at 2.4GHz, 5.8 GHz and the range of 60GHz unlicensed bands that are used in different regions around the world.

Once these tri-band chipsets were developed, they could be designed into prototype systems for testing and then for certification. Testing at and above 60GHz is a challenge, and test equipment makers have had to increase the range of their systems in order to demonstrate that the 60GHz systems – from the transceivers to the power amplifiers and the antennas – are working effectively.

Then certification becomes a viable proposition. Standards testing can be costly, and with recent consolidation, the process is backed by large chip companies aiming at consumer equipment such as Intel, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Lattice Semiconductor and Samsung, as well as silicon chip startups such as Peraso Technology, Nitero and Amimon and core technology suppliers such as Blu Wireless Technology.

This wider adoption of to 60GHz technology is also opening up other opportunities. Replacing the data cables that supply mobile phone basestations with a high bandwidth wireless link can cut costs for operators, and having WiGig certification allows those operators to choose the best systems for their networks.

All of this will see 60GHz emerging as the technology of choice for gigabit wireless links of all kinds, extending the cable-free, wireless world we take for granted today.