Wi-Fi Alliance gobbles up WiGig; plans to certify devices this year

The Wi-Fi Alliance and the WiGig Alliance have agreed to become to one, signing a memorandum of understanding to merge all of their technology and certification work under Wi-Fi’s banner. WiGig won’t go away, becoming just another flavor of Wi-Fi, but the Alliance said it plans to jointly certify Wi-Fi and WiGig devices in late 2013.

WiGig is an extremely high-speed, but short range, local networking technology that promises to link ultra-high-performance broadband appliances and peripherals with up to 6 gigabit per second connections. Its major limitation is the extremely high 60 GHz frequencies it uses, which limits its connections to near-line-of-sight within a single room. Still the technology has attracted a lot of interest from networking vendors from giants Intel(s intc), Dell(s dell) and Broadcom(s brcm) to a spate of new startups like Wilocity and Nitero.

Wi-Fi Alliance marketing director Kelly Davis-Felner said the respective alliances have been collaborating for some time and as it became apparent that most device makers would integrate both Wi-Fi and WiGig technologies into their future products, it made sense for the two entities to merge.

“The technology behind WiGig is fairly different from Wi-Fi in terms of performance, range, and use cases, and doesn’t interoperate with traditional Wi-Fi,” Davis-Felner said via e-mail. “As such, we expect that the branding for the technology will be different from “Wi-Fi”.  That said, it’s important to note that many, if not most, implementations of 60 GHz technology will likely coexist alongside traditional Wi-Fi technology.”

WiGig will coexist with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s own gigabit wireless networking initiative, 802.11ac, which will work in the 5 GHz  airwaves, but it now looks like WiGig will get fully subsumed into the Alliance’s own work in the 60 GHz, based on the developing IEEE 802.11ad standard (subscription required).

Davis-Felner said the Alliance will begin its lab interoperability work this month, and it plans to begin ramping its certification program by the end of the year. WiGig isn’t the only group seeking to use the 60 GHz airwaves. Late last year Silicon Image announced plans to use the same spectrum to deliver video and gaming from handsets to televisions and other large screens inside the home using the Wireless HD standard.