Just when you're getting used to one next-generation wireless networking standard, the industry is ready to roll out the next one.
The 802.11n Wi-Fi standard may have a cumbersome technical name, but the increased range and networking speeds many times higher than the 11g technology that came before it is good stuff. Topping out at a transfer sped of 600 megabits per second -- with high-end equipment and under ideal conditions -- 11n nearly rivals gigabit Ethernet wires in connection speeds.
But that's still not enough for some important networking goals. The WiGig Alliance just announced technical specifications for an even faster wireless networking standard that will let your Blu-ray player send high-definition video streams to the TV -- uncompressed and with no wires. Now it's up to the hardware people to actually implement this technology, which trades higher speeds for shorter range in the intense 60 GHz radio spectrum.
If WiGig sounds like a fly by-night organization that won't deliver the goods, consider this: The alliance's board of directors includes tech luminaries like Intel
When you walk into an electronics store in a couple of years, you should see plenty of WiGig-enabled set-top boxes and TV sets. Given the higher-frequency signals' problems with beaming through walls and whatnot, 11n may remain the leading platform for whole-house networking while WiGig plays a specific role in connecting your home entertainment system together with fewer cables and less fuss.
From an investor's point of view, this announcement is simply a reassuring reminder that networking technologies will move on and expand into new markets as the older gear obsolesces. If you owns shares of Atheros or Broadcom, new standards like WiGig is what will keep your company healthy and profitable in coming years.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Atheros Communications is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool has created a covered strangle position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Atheros Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.