Qualcomm announced on Wednesday that it had purchased Wilocity, an Israeli startup working on chips for the next-generation of Wi-Fi, known as WiGig and IEEE 802.11ad.
Terms of the purchase are not being disclosed.
WiGig aims to deliver multi-gigabit speeds over the 60GHz spectrum. At that frequency, it has the potential for higher speed, but covers much shorter distances and can’t penetrate walls. Qualcomm’s Atheros unit has been an investor in Wilocity since 2008, and the two companies have been collaborating on products since 2011.
Qualcomm Atheros President Amir Faintuch said that even a company as big as Qualcomm can’t afford to invest in everything and that there were skeptics even within the company as to whether the 60Ghz technology would be a commercial success.
Moor Insights analyst Patrick Moorhead said the deal is a smart one for Qualcomm, given that Wilocity has been shipping for six months and both Intel and Broadcom are “hot on the trail.”
In addition to the acquisition, Qualcomm said it is working to bring Wilocity’s technology into a tri-band package together with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. It should show up in phones and tablets next year, Qualcomm said. So far, 60GHz has been used primarily in computer docking stations.
“Computing, as important as it is, is not as big as mobile,” Faintuch said in an interview.
WiGig technology, Moorhead said, will allow faster Wi-Fi generally, but also allow for wireless transfer of things that today require a wired connection, such as gaming and ultra-high-definition video.
“Both home and business users hate cables,” Moorhead said.
WiGig could also play a role in cars and cellular infrastructure, Faintuch said.
Investors in Wilocity include Benchmark Capital, Sequoia Capital, Tallwood Venture Capital and Israel’s Vintage Investment Partners. In total, the company has raised more than $100 million in investment, although it still has fewer than 100 employees.