If you haven’t heard of WiGig yet, don’t fret. It might not matter anymore anyway. Advertised by the Wi-Fi Alliance last year as the future of Wi-Fi and the IoT industry, WiGig just lost one of its biggest supporters. Well, somewhat. Intel has just told partners that it will be discontinuing controllers and cards for what is formally known as 802.11ad Wi-FI. That said, what it isn’t saying, formally or otherwise, is that it may still plan to use WiGig for making wireless VR headsets not only possible but also usable.
The biggest bragging rights of WiGig is its 8 Gbps transfer speeds, multiple times faster than the fastest Wi-Fi. It also has very minimal latency, better than our current commercial Wi-Fi implementations. It accomplishes this by utilizing the so far empty 60 GHz spectrum, while Wi-Fi occupies the 2.5 and 5 GHz bands.
WiGig’s speed, however, doesn’t come without a cost. Its reach is terribly short, up to 10 meters maximum. And even then only if there are no obstacles in between. Yes, WiGig can’t penetrate solid walls, which severely limits its potential as the next gen Wi-Fi. It does, however, have the potential for short-range data transfer, like for wireless docks.
As it turns out, however, almsot no one is interested in such wireless docks anyway. WiGig can’t hold a candle to the likes of USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 that boast of data transfer speeds reaching 10 to 40 Gbps. Yes, you do have to deal with cables, but manufacturers seem to be OK with that cost.
The lack of interested parties seems to have made Intel also less interested in continuing to develop its WiGig cards. As such, it is canceling the Wireless Gigabit 11000 and Tri Band Wireless-AC 18260 controllers, the Wireless Gigabit Antena-M M100041 antenna, and the Wireless Gigabit Sink W13100 sink. Partners can still order these parts until September 29 and the last shipments will go out December 29. Intel will continue to provide support for these products until their support periods end.
But while WiGig is no Wi-Fi replacement, there is one area where its limitations have no bearing at all: wireless VR headsets. With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth deemed to be too slow for the low latencies that VR requires, WiGig might finally find a home in virtual reality.