Qualcomm launches a family of chips that can deliver incredibly fast Wi-Fi – at speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second – to phones, laptops, routers, and more. It is the beginning of a new generation of this super-fast Wi-Fi standard, but it's not used to speed up typical internet surfing. And if it prevails at all, remains an open question.
At the moment, Wi-Fi is about to make a big change: Next year, we will see routers, phones, laptops, and other devices add devices to support something called Wi-Fi 6, which speeds something should, but not unbelievably, faster than they are now. Strangely, we are not talking about it here.
Instead, there is another Wi-Fi standard that is updated, something that is not intended for everyday use of the Internet home or favorite cafe. This type of Wi-Fi is intended for specific purposes, such as replacing the data cable of a virtual reality headset with a high-speed wireless connection ̵
Wi-Fi has been used for this purpose in recent years, using a wireless technology called WiGig. WiGig relies on a connectivity standard known as 802.11ad that can reach speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second in just under ten meters, according to Dino Bekis, head of the Qualcomm Mobile and Compute Connectivity group.
Qualcomm's latest chips move WiGig to a new generation of this wireless standard, called 802.11ay, which the Bekis says can reach speeds twice as fast, up to 100 meters away. The Wi-Fi Alliance says the new standard "increases WiGig's peak data rates, improves spectrum efficiency and reduces latency."
So why not just use the normal WLAN, considering how fast it will be? Because this range is only the line of sight – if literally nothing is in the way between transmitter and receiver. This high-speed WLAN is based on millimeter wave radio waves in the 60 GHz range. This means that it is very fast, but also that it is very difficult to overcome obstacles like a wall. This is a problem if you want a general wireless technology.
For this reason, 802.11ay, like 802.11ad before, is used as an optional add-on to existing Wi-Fi technology. If you are one of the people who need these extreme wireless speeds, you may benefit. Remember, you probably need to power your router and the device in the same room at these high speeds for it to work, because the whole problem with the walls pops up.
It is not clear if this is the case really good, but. While there is definitely room for adoptions for VR players, the earlier version of this technology has seen only minimal upswing in the couple of years in the market. Asus has recently used it with the designed for gamers ROG Phone interesting. And Qualcomm says it is working with Facebook to use this technology for its Terragraph project, which wirelessly delivers home Internet connections.
WiGig also competes to some extent with 5G, which makes these radio waves very similar to similarly fast speeds over similarly limited distances. 5G is not meant to be used in such a home so WiGig can find a place there. But the two standards may be competing as an option for delivering Internet from a tower to a house – that's what Facebook Terragraph does with WiGig, and it's what Verizon does with 5G.
For now you do not have to worry about it. If you buy a router next year, you will still be looking for the "Wi-Fi 6" logo. If WiGig is on a product you are buying, it will probably be an advertised feature; You probably need to buy something new to support it, and whatever that is, it's likely to work alongside Wi-Fi 6 instead of replacing it.