What is WiGig and How Is It Different from Wi-Fi 6?

In 2019 the newest Wi-Fi will become available to the public. Known as Wi-Fi 6, it will bring speeds of up to 2Gbps to your wireless devices. But it’s not the fastest connection in the world of Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi Alliance has approved WiGig, and the technology can deliver speeds of 5 Gbps but is not widely used.

If WiGig is faster than Wi-Fi 6, why aren’t we jumping on the bandwagon and skipping Wi-Fi 6 altogether? Well, it is faster, but it has some limitations. Let’s take a look at what it is, and why it is not better than Wi-Fi 6.

WiGig is another name for a Wi-Fi connection called 802.11ad. It’s also referred to as Wireless AD. It has the possibility of delivering Wi-Fi speeds that are an insane seven or eight times the rates offered by 802.11ac! With download speeds of up to 10 Gbps, WiGig can download an HD movie in a few seconds! It boasts super low latency and almost wired-grade responsiveness.

WiGig uses the 60 GHz spectrum instead of the 2.4 or 5GHz typically used by standard Wi-Fi. This spectrum’s wider channels can pack more data into the signal. It uses beamforming technology for a direct signal between devices, eliminating interference.

The antennas that WiGig uses to send signals between devices are only about the size of your thumb and getting smaller.

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Getting this new technology’s speed is something that seems like a no-brainer, but those speeds come with limitations. WiGig has a shorter range than other Wi-Fi standards, realistically only up to about 30 feet. Because it works on the 60 GHz channel, it cannot penetrate walls, other objects, or even people, making it less efficient. So to use it, you’d have to be in the same room as the access point and keep anyone from walking between you and that signal. To use it effectively, you would need multiple access points, with each functioning independently to prevent network traffic.

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Another problem is that today WiGig is technically faster than speeds available from almost all internet providers. This discrepancy means that you won’t be able to get its full speeds anyway.

So what is WiGig good for? Right now, WiGig would work best as a compliment to your current Wi-Fi rather than a replacement for it. Some of the uses for it that may be possible soon include:

  • A replacement for wired connections such as HDMI
  • Connecting virtual reality and augmented reality equipment when it is in the same room

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  • Multimedia streaming, gaming, and networking applications
  • Allowing phones, tablets, and computers to wirelessly stream to a high-resolution TV or another monitor in the same room

WiGig is much faster than Wi-Fi 6. However, Wi-Fi 6 is more flexible than WiGig because Wi-Fi 6 can travel through objects such as walls, and it travels further. Right now, most WiGig devices need to be self-contained. In other words, you need both the WiGig wireless adapter to communicate with a specific receiver through a direct stream.

Someday you may be able to buy a WiGig-enabled router and a laptop with the WiGig capability and get incredible speeds while the computer is within range of the router. These types of devices are few and far between today. Wi-Fi 6 will be widely available soon, and even though it doesn’t have the lightning speeds of WiGig, you will still see a marked improvement over your current connections.

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We know that technology is continually improving, and just recently Qualcomm announced that they have the first 802.11ay Wi-Fi chipsets. These are the next level of WiGig and have the capability for speeds of up to 10 Gbps for all devices. WiGig technology could theoretically reach speeds of 40-50 Gbps, but today’s devices are not capable of handling such data transfer rates, so they have a lot of catching up to do!

So while WiGig speeds may seem like Wi-Fi heaven, it’s not really practical yet for everyday use. Wi-Fi 6, though, will significantly improve your experience over the current 802.11ac standard.

One comment

  1. An unintended benefit of WiGig’s limitations is security. Since it cannot penetrate walls, it eliminates war driving and neighbors using your bandwidth.

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