As we went to press, rumors surfaced again that Apple will ditch all iPhone ports for at least one of its 2021 phones. This news has put the WiGig standard back on the radar. But it’s not just important to devices; the specification supports the wireless transmission of AV data, including support for displays, cameras, and projectors, and for HDCP 2.0.
WiGig refers to a set of 60 GHz wireless network protocols that specialize in delivering very fast wireless over short distances. Additionally, the specification utilizes beamforming to propagate off reflections from walls, ceilings, floors, and objects, enabling multi-gigabit speeds at up to 10 meters. While it cannot go through walls at 60 GHz, the protocol switches to lower bands at lower rates to accommodate roaming from the main location. This open WiGig standard is in competition with the proprietary WirelessHD standard for some devices.
WiGig is sometimes called 60GHz Wi-Fi and it includes the current IEEE 802.11ad standard and also the upcoming IEEE 802.11ay standard (currently in draft as of November).
The WiGig specification allows devices to communicate wirelessly at multi-gigabit speeds. That’s potentially important in AV because it supplements the capabilities of previous wireless LAN devices with high-performance wireless data, display and audio. WiGig tri-band enabled devices, which operate in the 2.4, 5 and 60 GHz bands, deliver data transfer rates up to 7 Gbit/s (for 11ad), about data transfer rates up to 7 Gbit/s (for 11ad), about as fast as an 8-band 802.11ac transmission, and more than 11 times faster than the highest 802.11n rate, while maintaining compatibility with existing Wi-Fi devices.
The name WiGig comes from Wireless Gigabit Alliance, the original association formed in 2009 to promote the adaption of IEEE 802.11ad. Board-level members included Intel, AMD, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, Huawei, NEC, NVIDIA, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, and others. Contributing members from our industry included Harman, Rohde & Schwartz, and Texas Instruments.
In 2010, things got interesting for AV when the WiGig Alliance announced the version 1.0 A/V and I/O protocol adaptation layer (PAL) specifications which supported the transmission of audio/visual data, including supporting wireless DisplayPort and other display interfaces including HDCP 2.0. It also specified applications such as the transmission of lightly compressed or uncompressed video from a computer or digital camera to an HDTV, monitor or projector.
In 2013, the Wi-Fi Alliance subsumed the WiGig Alliance and in 2016 began a certification program for WiGig that will encompass the IEEE 802.ay standard which is anticipated within the year. Eventually, the future will be wireless.