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Wi-Fi to come in a much faster, short-range flavor

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 6:14am
(AP) -- The industry group that supports Wi-Fi is adopting a new technology that should boost data speeds more than 10 times at short distances, which could replace video cables in the home entertainment center.

The Wi-Fi Alliance said it is joining up with the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, or WiGig, which has been developing ways to exploit the 60 gigahertz frequency band for extremely high data speeds between devices in the same room.

The technology will probably take two years to show up in products, said Wi-Fi Alliance marketing director Kelly Davis-Felner. The first ones might be Blu-ray players that can send their high-definition video signal wirelessly to compatible TV sets. Later, portable devices such as video cameras could get the ability to send video wirelessly.

A separate group, the WirelessHD Consortium, has developed technology to exploit the same frequency band with the same aims. WirelessHD is further along in development. It is used in some paired transmitters and receivers for HD video that came out last year. The focus of WirelessHD was originally narrower, only video and audio streaming, but it has recently expanded to include data networking, just like WiGig.

John Marshall, chairman of the WirelessHD Consortium, said its technology is more suitable for high-quality video streaming, and less suitable for use in portable devices.

It's possible the technologies will coexist. Several powerhouses of the computer and consumer electronics industry are members of both groups, including Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Panasonic Corp. and Toshiba Corp.

In addition to WirelessHD and WiGig, it's possible to carry video on today's Wi-Fi bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. That's a cheaper option with longer range, but the video quality is slightly degraded and there is a slight transmission delay.

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