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In-Stat: 802.11n To Lead Wireless HD Video Market

Scottsdale, Ariz. — Wi-Fi 802.11n will be the dominant technology used by CE suppliers for at least the next several years to transmit HD video wirelessly from set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and PCs to HDTVs, research company In-Stat contended.

Three other technologies competing with 802.11n for these applications are Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI), WirelessHD and ultrawideband (UWB).

Almost 24 million digital TVs will ship worldwide in 2013 with some type of wireless HD technology, but fewer than 8 million of them will incorporate WHDI and WirelessHD, In-Stat forecasts.

Wi-Fi 802.11n will take the initial lead because of Wi-Fi’s existing broad base of chipmakers and its economies of scale, principal analyst Brian O’Rourke told TWICE. WirelessHD and WHDI, in contrast, are promoted by startup chipmakers that lack these advantages. “802.11n will be in 80 percent of the mobile PCs shipping in 2009,” O’Rourke noted. Wi-Fi is also well-established in home PC networks and portable devices such as cellphones. “It will be easier for 11n to get into CE devices than it will be for [WHDI chipmaker] Amimon and [WirelessHD chipmaker] SiBeam to get into PCs because Wi-Fi chipmakers are already well-established,” he contended. Wi-Fi is already making gains in Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, O’Rourke added.

Nonetheless, Panasonic and LG have announced 2009 availability of a handful of TVs with WirelessHD technology for the U.S. market.

Wireless UWB is unlikely to make an impact in the wireless HD video market because of the shrinking base of supporting chipmakers. Two major companies focused exclusively on wireless UWB for CE devices have closed, and another company discontinued its wireless UWB efforts, O’Rourke said. That leaves only one chipmaker, Sigma, remaining in the UWB-for-CE market, and it doesn’t focus exclusively on this market, he said.

A major drawback to 802.11n is its 100Mbps peak data rates, which requires “fairly expensive” compression and decompression chips to squeeze through an HD video signal, O’Rourke said. That requirement “levels the playing field” with “expensive” WHDI and WirelessHD technologies in terms of cost, he said. But economies of scale and broad chipmaker support gibe 802.11n the short-term advantage, he said.

WHDI and WirelessHD are also “power-hungry,” which reduces their appeal for mobile devices and thus reduces potential economies of scale, he In-Stat said.

In-Stat will publish its report this week for purchase on its Web site at $3.495. The report includes wireless HD video capability by product segment, technology type and chip average selling price as well as a rundown of silicon competitors.