Qualcomm promises WiGig handsets with 4K video

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Confirms purchase of 60GHz specialist Wilocity and announces integrated Snapdragon platform

As expected, Qualcomm has acquired 60GHz WiGig pioneer Wilocity and promises to take the emerging WiFi-like technology from its current foothold in fast PC-peripheral connections, right into the handset experience.

The purchase has been discussed for a couple of months, but is now complete, giving Qualcomm significant technology and IPR in the 802.11ad standard, branded WiGig. Once a separate activity from WiFi, the WiGig Alliance was brought under the wing of the WiFi Alliance last year and the 60GHz platform is now positioned as complementary to the 802.11ac gigabit WiFi offering.

Qualcomm also unveiled a family of triband chipsets combining WiGig with dual-band WiFi, integrated with its Snapdragon 810 mobile system-on-chip. WiGig’s initial commercial applications have been in the PC community, with backers like Intel and Dell deploying it as a high speed PC connectivity system. However, while this was a relatively simple way to prove the technology’s multi-gigabit (up to 7Gbps), short distance capabilities, all the big names have had a far grander vision for 11ad – in enterprise and hotspot WiFi, where cells are getting ever-smaller to create density; and in supporting high end multimedia in smartphones.

With Qualcomm’s solution, mobile devices will be able to transmit 4K video directly to larger screens from next year, says the firm, potentially replacing HDMI ports and other methods. The first WiGig handsets will appear in the second half of 2015, according to Cormac Conroy, VP of product management and engineering at Qualcomm Atheros, the firm’s WiFi and multimode division. 4K video has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, four times that of 1920 x 1080 HD.

Qualcomm did not disclose the purchase price, though it is rumored to be about $300m, which sounds very reasonable, given this puts Qualcomm in the technology and patents vanguard for mobile WiGig, outwitting Intel – which has its own visions for the technology – into the bargain.

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Caroline has been analyzing and reporting in the hi-tech industries since 1986 and has a huge wealth of experience of technology trends and how they impact on business models. She started her career as a journalist, specializing in enterprise and carrier networks and in silicon technologies. She spent much of her journalistic career at VNU Business Publishing, then Europe’s largest producer of technology publications and information services . She was publishing director for the launch of VNU’s pan-European online content services, and then European editorial director. She then made the move from publishing into technology market analysis and consulting, and in 2002 co-founded Rethink Technology Research with Peter White. Rethink specializes in trends and business models for wireless, converged and quad play operators round the world and the technologies that support them. Caroline’s role is to head up the wireless side of the business, leading the creation of research, newsletters and consulting services focused on mobile platforms and operator models. In this role, she has become a highly recognized authority on 4G systems such as LTE and WiMAX, and a prolific speaker at industry events. Consulting and research clients come from major mobile operators, the wireless supply chain and financial institutions.