Two 60 GHz wireless protocols that initially target different applications may someday compete head-to-head, according to a new Research Brief from ABI Research that includes a forecast of nearly two million 60 GHz chipset shipments in 2015.

WirelessHD is a standard currently available in products using the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band and has 40 companies among its promoters and adopters. Its initial use-case is for streaming of HDTV signals within the home.

Twenty-six companies are behind the Wireless Gigabit Alliance and its WiGig standard, which is aimed initially at allowing WLAN devices to communicate at gigabit speeds within a typical room.

WirelessHD Here and Now

According to ABI Research analyst Xavier Ortiz, “The 60 GHz frequency band has interesting properties that offer security and efficiency advantages for short-range networking.” At these frequencies signals are attenuated by atmospheric oxygen, making eavesdropping less likely. Also, the smaller antennas used can achieve more efficient use of the spectrum for point-to-multipoint applications.

WirelessHD is the first of these standards to reach real products, most of which are aimed at the HDTV market. However, says Ortiz, “Two disadvantages inhibit WirelessHD’s adoption and negate its first-to-market advantage. First, the transmitters and receivers are expensive, in the $600 to 1000 range. They are also power-hungry. Solutions need to be capable of bidirectional transfer with a vast reduction in power consumption.” SiBeam and Georgia Tech are two companies that can do bidirectional data transfer.

WiGig Promises “Wi-Fi on Steroids”

WiGig products are still on the drawing-board, but the standard aims to be part of the existing Wi-Fi ecosystem through Wi-Fi access points that include WiGig chipsets. Such an arrangement would open up the colossal existing Wi-Fi market to WiGig vendors. “If the Wi-Fi Alliance chooses to join WiGig for a 60 GHz solution,” Ortiz believes, “WiGig will likely be successful.”

Eventually, says Ortiz, WiGig and WirelessHD vendors want to target each others’ initial markets as well.

“Competing 60 GHz Solutions” covers the 60 GHz space and standards such as WirelessHD, WiGig, 802.11ad and 802.15.3c. It analyzes strategies for these standards and their possible coexistence, and presents a forecast of 60 GHz semiconductor shipments.

It is part of the firm’s Short-Range Wireless Research Service.