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Runners and riders set for HD Video over WiFi race

The fight for wireless video in the home has had many contenders, but always WiFi has staked the claim that its reach is ubiquitous and that new syste

By PETER WHITE

Published: 10 March, 2011

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The fight for wireless video in the home has had many contenders, but always WiFi has staked the claim that its reach is ubiquitous and that new systems like 60 GHz technologies will never replace it and that existing No New Wire technologies based on existing Coaxial cable, twisted pair or power line technologies, will be short lived, due to the convenience of WiFi.

WiFi is a bit of a mystery when it comes to video. We have all watched video on a laptop in a part of the house where a web page takes a minute to download, and wondered how the WiFi protocols manage to send enough data to make the video work. We have all also seen sporadic video “artifacts” across big flat TV screens which take the sheen off watching quality video.

We remember that one IPTV system needed specialist forward error correction in the Netherlands, because the vibrations caused by the running of trams, somehow made the signal more noise prone. Video generally can be a mystery and solutions which promise to “solve” all IP video packet problems in one go will make someone very rich.

Right now we are reaching that period of development when Over the Top systems are being planned in every country in Europe and in the US, and new IPTV services using QoS are still springing up around Europe, while existing IPTV sites are constantly questing for support technologies which eliminate IP packet loss.

Even OTT services like the UK’s YouView (nee Canvas) which are supposed to be widespread within their territories, and which are sponsored by major broadcaster groups, have shot themselves in the foot by having CE suppliers produce devices which don’t support WiFi.

All of this sets up the market for WiFi delivered video as one of vital interest over the next two years, and at least one major supplier is set to emerge, probably one per continent (USA, Europe, Asia Pacific) and perhaps more. Eventually, creating non-standard firmware in either standard or specialist wireless router chips, which can support multiple HD video streams, will become just part of the WiFi eco-system, but right now there are three companies which stand out attacking this market and each of them was just given another round of funding, ostensibly to see them through to profitability.

Over the past decade Atheros made something of a name for itself, being a pure WiFi play which supported MIMO earlier, and some argue better, than anyone else, and took this and other talents to create $927 million revenue in its final full year of operations as an independent company and an acquisition at a price of more than $3 billion. So could it be that the chip company or software provider that leads the race to make WiFi more video friendly, can also make that kind of progress, before being subsumed into one of the major chip vendors like Broadcom or Qualcomm.

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