Gi-Fi, shorthand for Gigabit Wi-Fi, 802.11 and wireless Gigabit to the desktop (wGTTD), is the latest and greatest wireless technology hype. The technology would be capable of transmitting high data rates.

The looming promise of Gi-Fi has already caused quite a stir about the technology’s possibilities. Getting gigabit to the desktop has been a primary goal for many wired networks, but only recently has that goal extended to achieving the same bandwidth, but without wires.

At this stage, Gi-Fi is only being proposed. The premise was unveiled back in November 2003 by Dev Gupta and researchers at NewLans Inc. They presented a tutorial to the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee that essentially took the basics of Wi-Fi and ramped it up, based in part on the Federal Communications Commission’s ruling that allows for operation on the 56GHz band to offer 2 Gbps on a wireless LAN. The concept caught on, and drew immediate attention.

A brief history

When introduced, Wi-Fi seemed promising, but the distance is limited, making it not very useful beyond 150 feet. Then along came WiMAX—wireless access over broadband—increasing the operation distance to 10 miles. The added broadband component gives it the juice it needs to go farther.

Products that are WiMAX-certified are slated to hit the market full force in 2006. But even before WiMAX products fill shelves, Gi-Fi has appeared in theory. One can only guesstimate when Gi-Fi products could become available. As it stands, 802.11g allows one to operate off of 54 Mbps to the desktop. The promise of Gi-Fi or wGTTD is to pump that number up in a significant way, up to 2 Gbps.

The 2 Gbps goal is lofty, but conceivable. In December 2004, Siemons achieved a 1 Gbps transmission speed by combining an intelligent antenna system with orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) technology. It was a complex but important undertaking, as it shows how combining current technologies can hold great promise for future applications.

Enterprising offering

The main attraction of Gi-Fi is that it is aimed at and geared toward the enterprise market. Before Gi-Fi was proposed, Wi-Fi was more of a small- or home-based business offering because of the combination of distance and data transmission -limitations.

Another Gi-Fi benefit is the technology is almost as secure as wired systems. This is an interest to the enterprise market because security is a top priority.

Security issues and wireless networks have a long-standing love/hate relationship. Though advances in network security have made wireless networks almost as secure as their wired counterparts, there is still concern. Gi-Fi will most likely find a home at enterprises that understand network security as a whole.

Now that the absolute basics are almost understood (things are still too new to truly understand) even an uneducated person questions what exactly would this be used for?

One can only imagine. But, even though the technology is readily available, many question just what application could possibly benefit from 2 Gbps to the desktop.

Most wireless network users tap into the network for Web browsing, file sharing, e-mailing and IP applications. But, all of those things work just fine at the 54 Mbps level. There has been speculation that WiMAX holds more promise than Gi-Fi and the stage may soon be set for the two to battle.

Then again, Gi-Fi could make those common wireless applications faster, more reliable and more secure. It could potentially open the door for wireless applications such as data mining, video-on-demand and other bandwidth-hungry applications that currently work best on wired networks.

Should things come to pass as anticipated, just about any application that requires high data-transmission rates will be able to finally go wireless.

As with most promising and emerging technologies, we will only know if the talk and the hype were worthwhile with time. Gi-Fi sounds too good to be true, hopefully it proves to be another wireless offering to make life easier.

In terms of throughput, WiMAX still seems on track to be the next best thing to wired. The fact that Gi-Fi is even a thought, however, is enough to make one think about the possibilities that are out on the horizon. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.