WiGig Market on the Verge of a Breakout Year

June 8, 2016, 8:32 p.m.
Philip Solis, Research Director


WiGig, or IEEE 802.11ad, is fully a part of Wi-Fi.  It is Wi-Fi in 60 GHz.  This year will be pivotal for WiGig with the first access points and devices incorporating the technology.  Next year will be a breakout year for WiGig.  Several flagship smartphones with WiGig will ship in higher volumes, along with more PCs, access points, VR headsets, and other products with WiGig.  Here’s why:

  • Millimeter wave spectrum is hot.  Advances in radio and antenna spectrum now allow this spectrum to be used for access and not just a point-to-point connection.  The complex methods of strengthening the signal in this spectrum are precisely what also provides it with other advantages – narrow beams are formed between WiGig radios, which allow more WiGig connections to be used on the same frequency at the same time in the same vicinity.  This is why 5G mobile technology will be designed around centimeter and millimeter wave spectrum.
  • The 60 GHz band has a lot of spectrum available.  2.4 GHz spectrum is becoming increasingly crowded.  It is used by proprietary technologies, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee.  This is why the Wi-Fi market has shifted to dual-band products – especially with dual-band 802.11n/ac.  The 5 GHz band has much more spectrum available – multiples of the spectrum available for use in the 2.4 GHz band.  The 60 GHz band has even more spectrum.  Respectively, the amounts of spectrum available in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 60 GHz bands are 60 MHz (20 MHz X 3 non-overlapping channels), about 600 MHz (this varies by country), and about 8 GHz of spectrum (supporting 3 or 4 ultra-wideband channels in most countries).
  • Ultra-wideband spectrum allows for much higher data rates.  802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n use 20 MHz channels in the 2.4 GHz band.  In the 5 GHz band, 802.11n uses up to 40 MHz channels, 802.11ac uses up to 80 MHz channels, and 802.11ac Wave 2 can use up to 160 MHz channels.  Channel width allows for much higher data rates.  In the 60 GHz band, 802.11ad uses channels that are about 2 GHz wide.  Wi-Fi has gone ultra-wideband.  The same is true for 5G.
  • WiGig products are ramping up.  More brands and models of PCs can be ordered with WiGig as an option.  Access points with WiGig are hitting the market.  Smartphones with WiGig are imminent.  VR headsets with cords need WiGig to ditch the cord.  Several WiGig chipset vendors are in discussions with all of the VR gear vendors.
  • There are many chipset vendors that will support this market.  Not all of them have chipsets ready yet like Intel, Nitero, Peraso, SiBEAM (a part of Lattice Semiconductor), and Qualcomm, but more will be ready soon, including from Broadcom, Marvell, MediaTek, and others.

To sum it up, WiGig will use the 60 GHz band where multiple ultra-wideband channels are available and provide Wi-Fi with faster data rates and, more importantly, a massive increase in network capacity.  The ecosystem for WiGig spans the mobile, PC, and consumer electronics industries across the consumer, enterprise, and service provider markets.  It is supported by a number of large and small WiGig chipset vendors and is a part of the bigger Wi-Fi ecosystem.  Its increased availability in portable PCs has provided a base for this technology as 2016 becomes a pivot year as Wi-Fi access points and smartphones enter the picture.  The foundation is being laid in 2016 for 2017 to be a breakout year for WiGig.

ABI Research details the whole WiGig ecosystem, driving factors, and some of our market forecasts in our white paper on this topic here: https://www.abiresearch.com/pages/mu-mimo-and-802-11ad/