May 13, 2014, 2:05 AM — Rumors are swirling in the Israeli press that Qualcomm is set to buy Wilocity, an Israeli start-up that specializes in high-speed wireless networking, for approximately $300 million. The deal is likely to be announced in the coming days, but company would comment on the rumor.
Qualcomm worked with Wilocity for several years to develop WiGig chipsets. WiGig is the brand name for the 802.11ad standard created by the WiFi Alliance. It's another example of the industry's rapid pace; products supporting 802.11ac are just hitting the market and the majority of devices are still using 802.11n.
802.11ad will offer data transfer speeds of up to 7 gigabits, quite the bump from the 1-1.5Gbps of 802.11ac standard, which transfers data at a speed of between 1 and 1.3 Gbps. Like 802.11ac, WiGig runs on the 5 GHz band instead of the 2.4 GHz band that 802.11n devices use.
Wilocity and Qualcomm demonstrated WiGig at the 2013 CES 2013. Because of its speed, it was able to connect to 60Hz devices like TVs and the demo showed off the ability to transfer high-definition video at distances of up to 40 meters while maintaining frame rate. That's 10 times faster than average Wi-Fi transmission rates.
Because of the 60Hz support, WiGig isn't necessarily going to target smartphones and tablets. It's aiming at TV sets and could be a replacement for HDMI cables.
This won't be Qualcomm's first Israeli purchase. The company bought iSkoot, which developed enhancements for Skype and now social media apps for carriers in 2010. In 2012 it bought DesignArt Networks, which develops small cell technology for cellular base stations and wireless backhaul infrastructure. That year Qualcomm also bought the assets of Israel’s EPOS, which specialized in digital ultrasound technology. Qualcomm has also invested in Israeli start-ups through its Qualcomm Ventures funds.
Intel also has a major presence in Israel. Its Centrino processor family was designed by a group there. Three members of that team just happen to be the founders of Wilocity, including CEO Danny Rettig.