Streaming video over 60GHz – a WiGig and Wireless HD overview

A recent report from the analyst house, Research & Markets, has stated that 2013 is the year when Wireless HD and WiGig go head to head.

Both WiGig (802.11ad) and Wireless HD are 60GHz technologies and both have been developed to give gigabit level data transfers – especially for HD video and media content – over an unlicensed wireless signal, but what are the differences?

The following is a quick overview and touches only on the two most known standards, WiGig and Wireless HD. Additional standards are also coming to the market with Japanese firms developing Transfer Jet 3.0. We’ll focus on this standard in another post.

60 GHz and why it’s ideal for video

The 60 GHz band (57-64 GHz) is an unlicensed band and can be used for a variety of wireless applications. And, because it has 7 GHz of bandwidth (assuming TDD is used) it allows a very high-speed digital data connection.

Depending on the modulation scheme used it’s possible to reach multi-gigabit data rates, right up to 20+ Gbps if very high-level schemes are used.

At the same time, video is increasingly being stored on home servers with files being either compressed using the H.264 compression standard, or too large to transfer easily between devices wirelessly.

Unsurprisingly, uncompressed video is the preferred option, especially as screen resolution increases. Yet, people don’t want the HDMI / USB 3 cable connected to the wireless tablet / smartphone.

But it’s not just needed for video. Time to transferring photos and audio, especially multiple files, is also significantly cut when using 60GHz technologies.

WiGig – IEEE 802.11ad

Although the standard was ratified in 2010, WiGig chipsets only began entering the market in late 2012, over two years after Wireless HD. The standard was created to include features missing in WirelessHD, such as Wi-Fi failover compatibility and the ability to do basic networking.

The standard delivers data rates of up to 7 Gbps and also specifies an adaptive beam forming option to minimise interference and optimise the data rate / link reliability. Furthermore, the standard allows for a way to interface to specific displays (using PALs) like HDMI and DisplayPort as well as interfaces such as PCI Express and USB.

Officially known as IEEE 802.11ad, it is the latest WiFi standard (after a, b, g, n and ac), but it is designed as a complementary, rather than competing technology to these.

Crucially, the media access control (MAC) layer for each is similar, meaning they are all interoperable. But, whereas a, b, g, n and ac use either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands, giving each whole home coverage, the 60GHz band used by both WiGig and WirelessHD is limited to in-room applications, making it a competing technology for high speed data cables (USB3 / HDMI).

This enables a relatively simple roll-out of the technology, with baseband chip manufacturers integrating it into their existing offering to create tri-band chips. Indeed, it’s anticipated that by 2016, 40% of the 3.5B WiFi chipsets in production will be ‘Tri-band’ i.e. using the new 60GHz WiGig band alongside existing 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

Further information on the standard is available on our WiGig pages.


WirelessHD has a head start over WiGig, having been shipping in devices since 2010. The standard was created by the WirelessHD Consortium and designed from scratch to be used as a video transport method only. Being developed solely for video transmission gives it two key advantages for integration into Blu-ray players and TVs.

1) It’s faster, the standard can achieve data rates in the 10- to 28-Gbit/s range and concurrently transmit uncompressed HD video and multi-channel audio.

2) It integrates digital transmission content protection (DTCP) capability to protect high-value digital movies, TV programs, and audio against from being intercepted and pirated.

This makes it a highly desirable standard for the movie studios who will be able to charge more for the highest quality video – and who are worried about piracy.

But, unlike WiGig, it is a proprietary standard and cannot be integrated on WiFi chipsets – WirelessHD was originally part of an effort to develop a high-speed option for the IEEE 802.15.3c standard.


While it’s clear that the 60GHz band is going to be the future for video streaming between devices, some analysts are predicting a standards war between the two WiGig and Wireless HD.

While both allow high speed transfer of video, both standards have very different strengths so I doubt there will be a huge standards war akin to Betamax and VHS. In fact, the different opportunities for 60GHz in Wireless HD, WiGig and LTE Backhaul was a key reason in us developing an IP offering, with our flexible 60GHz baseband IP (HYDRA) allowing a wide range of applications.

If you’re looking to develop a wireless video chipset or simply need extra information then get in touch.