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Can proprietary wireless HD survive?

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless HD? Wi-Fi? UWB?

When Amimon chairman and CEO Yoav Nissan-Cohen came to our offices to discuss the state of the wireless video networking industry, he had three messages to deliver.

First, Amimon is continuing to work "in the background" to be a part of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, or WiGig, specification, filling the hole for video networking technology operating in the 5GHz frequency. Asked Nissan-Cohen: "WiGig [has] decided to add 802.11n for data delivery on 5GHz, but what about the video delivery at 5GHz?"

Second, Amimon is advocating wireless "uncompressed" HD connectivity for home networks.

Third, Amimon plans to offer a chip in 2010, marrying Wi-Fi with Amimon's Wireless High-Definition Interface (WHDI) technology.

These messages weren't necessarily the usual "talking points" scripted in a company's Power Point presentation. These are what I perceived as issues Nissan-Cohen used to clarify where Amimon stands at a time when the intensity and complexity of the current wireless home networking standards battle grows.

First, some background.

In a race to run multiple HD video streams, a dizzying array of competing wireless technologies have only fragmented the potential wireless home network market. Worse, leading consumer electronics companies, typically dabbling with all technologies and making no decisions, have muddied the water by issuing confusing design win announcements and half-hearted endorsements.

In short, the situation is a mess.

However, formation of the WiGig Alliance last month offered some hope, signaling that leading Wi-Fi chip vendors and some computer and consumer OEMs may be finally ready to agree on a spec. The group, targeting a broad range of wireless applications ranging from home nets to mobile phones, is working on a specification for 60GHz networking at rates up to 6Gbit/s.

For those who want to believe, the WiGig Alliance sounds like a savior.

With charter members like Atheros, Broadcom, Dell, Intel, LG Electronics, Marvell, Microsoft, Mediatek, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung and Wilocity, the WiGig Alliance could reduce the risks and uncertainty out of the equation, thereby easing the concerns of hesitant consumer electronics companies. Typically, these companies hate depending on a single chip supplier, especially a startup.

Moreover, WiGig's formation represents a big threat to proprietary wireless video technology suppliers.

The word in the industry these days, according to my colleague Rick Merritt, is that "Wi-Fi at 11n and the 60GHz follow-on will do whatever UWB, 60GHz and proprietary approaches were trying to do and do it cheaper." Merritt also observed, "I think days may be numbered for Amimon, Celano, and even SiBeam."

Are their days really numbered?

Nissan-Cohen told me, "WiGig is not competing with us. We see it as an interesting opportunity."

Translation: The WiGig Alliance shouldn't be taken lightly, and Amimon needs to find a way to be a part of it.

I wonder what, if any, progress Amimon is actually making with WiGig Alliance members. Mark Grodzinsky, chairman of WiGig Alliance Marketing Working Group, reached earlier this week, revealed little.

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