Qualcomm secures 60 GHz WiGig beachhead with Wilocity acquisition

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) confirmed its acquisition of WiGig chipmaker Wilocity, a move designed to enable Qualcomm to easily integrate WiGig into its mobile platforms and secure the vendor's role in wireless streaming of 4K video and high-throughput peer-to-peer communications for mobile, computing and networking devices.

Tal Tamir, who was Wilocity's CEO and is now a vice president of product management within Qualcomm Atheros


Israeli press had reported in early May that Qualcomm was negotiating to buy all of Wilocity for $300 million. Qualcomm declined to release financial terms of the final deal.

"Broadly, the Wilocity team will be fully integrated into QCT, the chipset group of Qualcomm," Cormac Conroy, a vice president of product management and engineering at Qualcomm Atheros, told FierceWirelessTech.

Qualcomm Atheros, Qualcomm's Wi-Fi chip business, began investing in Wilocity in 2008, and the companies have worked closely on tri-band solutions for the computing market since 2011. Dell has been using the solutions in a laptop computer and accompanying dock. With Qualcomm's acquisition of Wilocity, the collaboration is expanding WiGig, which offers a peak transmission rate of 7 Gbps, into Qualcomm's mobile and networking designs.

"We now believe the technology is ready for much broader deployment across the wireless ecosystem, in particular, on smartphones and tablets," Conroy said.

On that note, Qualcomm also announced that its Qualcomm Atheros subsidiary is releasing a tri-band Wi-Fi and WiGig reference design based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, the world's first mobile platform to support tri-band wireless, Qualcomm said. The reference design is the first product in a planned family of tri-band platforms combining WiGig 802.11ad, operating in the 60 GHz spectrum band, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz band and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi in the 2.4 GHz band.

The 60 GHz WiGig specification was developed by the WiGig Alliance, which subsequently merged with the Wi-Fi Alliance, making WiGig part of the Wi-Fi family of specs. WiGig is standardized as IEEE 802.11ad.

60 GHz "is more than just another frequency band," said Tal Tamir, who was Wilocity's CEO and is now a vice president of product management within Qualcomm Atheros. With 60 GHz, "you have a lot of bandwidth there" and the transmission is very directional, limiting interference and guaranteeing a high level of performance and capacity, he added.

Tamir noted WiGig use cases include residential 4K streaming, in-office wireless docking as well as ultra-fast media offloading onto the cloud or downloading to a mobile device. Though millimeter-wave spectrum, including 60 GHz, is often cited as a key component of future 5G networks--for instance, as backhaul for small cell deployments--Tamir said Qualcomm's focus is on using 60 GHz to enable multi-gigabit speeds and high capacity for today's mobile platforms.

"The focus is on local connectivity," Conroy also noted.

Tamir said he and his Wilocity team have worked on WiGig since 2007, "care a lot about this technology" and "want it to be widely deployed," which is why the merger deal was made with Qualcomm.

Cisco heralded the Qualcomm-Wilocity deal, with Sujai Hajela, Cisco senior vice president, enterprise networking group, noting that enterprises will benefit immensely from widespread adoption of 802.11ad capabilities. "The multi-gigabit performance and enhanced network capacity that is delivered through WiGig will dramatically alter the way people access and use network-based resources," Hajela said.

Conroy observed that Cisco's support reassures the marketplace that 802.11ad will be supported in both mobile devices and in networks.

Billy Anders, group manager of operating systems at Microsoft, offered an interesting tidbit about the history of WiGig, noting the technology was conceived "during a meeting on Microsoft's campus with several other companies, including Wilocity." Anders said Qualcomm's acquisition of Wilocity "indicates a rapid proliferation of WiGig."

For more:
- see this Qualcomm release

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