Another UWB start-up folds - 802.11n looks "unstoppable"

Another UltraWideBand start-up, Radiospire Networks, has shut its doors, despite producing a first generation chip, Airhook, which demonstrated gigabit performance and targeted at replacing HDMI cables for digital TVs. UWB specialists are falling like flies, while former big name supporters like Intel are diverting their attentions elsewhere, so a new report from In-Stat, predicting that 802.11n will dominate the wireless HD market for at least the next few years, is hard to contradict.

After the folding of various UWB start-ups such as WiQuest and Tzero, and the winding up of the WiMedia Alliance, Radiospire is the latest casualty. "Our investors decided late last summer to pursue a merger and acquisition exit, and the timing couldn't have been worse for us - no one was buying anything in the fall," co-founder Tan Rao told EETimes. "We are winding the company down and selling the assets now."

Radiospire filed about 40 patents one of which has been issued, a broad patent on HDMI cable replacement. The company was also working on a 60GHz device. The main remaining UWB start-ups are Pulse~Link, Staccato (merged with Artimi), Wisair and Alereon.

UWB and two other initiatives - 60GHz WirelessHD and WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface) - are the main contenders for the high speed home media network, though other 60GHz and UWB-based developments are also seeking their place in the market. But the ubiquity and backwards compatibility of Wi-Fi make high speed 802.11n "unstoppable", says Brian O'Rourke of In-Stat. "The installed base of Wi-Fi is immense. The primary drawback to 802.11n is expense, since it requires codec technology on both ends to transmit HD video. Neither of its primary competitors, WHDI and WirelessHD, requires codecs."

In-Stat estimates that nearly 24m digital TVs will ship with some type of Wireless HD technology in 2013, but WHDI and WirelessHD will have slow starts, because they are currently expensive, power hungry and rely on start-ups; while UWB will not make much impression at all. They could all be reworked and evolved to grab more of the market in the next generation, but this one belongs to Wi-Fi, says the report.

Rethink Wireless

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