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April 08, 2015

The Fifth G is Coming to a Millimeter Near You

When we first started writing about 4G and LTE, Apple was restricting itself to 3G networks so that a universal / global implementation was possible. Since then the Mobile Internet has increased by threefold.

The funny thing was the Internet was still growing exponentially before the mobile Internet. The increase has to do with a number of factors, but the use of video combined with mobility has pushed the boundaries of what is possible.

LTE and the 4G would have sufficed for the data capacity demand that were forecast, but the smart phone and tablets added a distribution problem to the situation which made carriers look to small cell strategies.

However consumers and cable operators saw Wi-Fi as another, cheaper alternative.

That brings us to the use of millimeter wave technologies for wireless communications. The next-generation of Wi-Fi connectivity is 802.11ad (also known as WiGig). WiGig delivers multi-gigabit throughput for ultra-fast data access and 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) video transmissions.  WiGig is ideal for use in smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks, access points, and wireless docks. Researchers around the world are envisioning that new technology using the mmWave spectrum could increase today’s mobile data capacity by a thousand-fold or more — essential for meeting demand that will explode by 60 percent or more annually for decades to come.

With up to 7Gb/s of bandwidth, WiGig 802.11ad is expected to transform future Wi-Fi connectivity by adding needed network capacity in the unlicensed 60GHz spectrum and providing throughput up to 10 times faster than today’s Wi-Fi technology.

One of the companies building theses solutions is SiBEAM. SiBEAM’s new UltraGig product leverages 60GHz technology using advanced beam-forming technology and an antenna-diversity architecture. The company has built the first 60GHz chipsets using standard CMOS technology. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Silicon Image, Inc.

A recent announcement of collaboration with NYU suggests that the Enterprise and particularly locations that are data intensive (like hospitals) might be early adopters. While I have been skeptical about all the electronics required to make beaming forming an outdoor experience, I can see a real market forming within the Enterprise.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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