Europe's Approval of 60 GHz Makes Wireless HD Video Global


wirelesshd_logoCompanies making products for wireless HD video transmission through the use of the 60 Ghz standard are showing off their wares in Europe, thanks to the European Union’s recent approval of the use of spectrum between 57 GHz and 66 GHz wireless bands for unlicensed commercial use. At the IFA Expo in Berlin today, consumer device firms such as Panasonic, Toshiba and LG Electronics touted adapters or devices that allow for the wireless transfer of large files over room-sized distances.

Europe’s approval of the spectrum means companies that are trying to bring 60 GHz products to consumers can sell them to all major markets. The 60 GHz band is already approved for similar use in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, Brazil, Russia, India and China. International regulatory hurdles can help kill a wireless technology, as was the case with Ultrawideband — or even with WiMAX, some argue. When governments delay or refuse to allow the use of a continuous band of spectrum that matches what other countries allow, it means the chipmaker building the wireless radio has to make a larger, more expensive chip that can tune to several frequencies, or consumer device makers have to make several versions of a product to sell in each country. All add expense.

So the EU approval is great news for those pushing the multiple standards and hoping to use the radio spectrum to deliver HD video. But as for the exact winners, it remains to be seen. A Wi-Fi standard is expected to use this spectrum as well. Several companies hoping to use it for HD video are members of the WirelessHD Alliance, including SiBeam, Broadcom (s brcm), Intel (s intc)l, Sony (s sne) and Toshiba, but a rival group, called the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, includes some of the same members and is also planning to use the spectrum for a broader wireless HD video delivery technology. It’s unclear if the products from each standard effort will be compatible. This means consumers may want to wait a bit before investing in a Blu-ray player that can stream their movies wirelessly to their TV using that spectrum.



WirelessHD agrees that it takes time for standards to take off and for new technology to reach mass market prices and adoption rates. There is a very typical technology adoption cycle that WirelessHD is expected to follow and the group is staying on course in order to be most effective in entering the marketplace. Consumer demand for super thin HDTV displays is helping to drive the popularity of wireless high definition solutions for the home.

WirelessHD is a non-proprietary global standard with 40 members that launched 3 years ago and has achieved much success and momentum since it’s’ inception. Also, much of the WirelessHD standard has already been embedded into the IEEE 802.15.3c 60GHz standard in order to achieve and promote industry harmonization.

There are over 15 WirelessHD-based products available now throughout the world and there are more on the way. The top 5 consumer electronics manufacturer’s now shipping WirelessHD products include Sony, LG and Panasonic. Another important aspect of the WirelessHD standard is its’ compliance test specification program, in which all products must pass a rigorous 3-par compliance test in order to ship and ensure interoperability.

Jesse Kopelman

You should wait more than a bit. For this to be useful you need a standard that is adopted by all vendors and becomes a standard included feature on every product. Basically, you want something like Bluetooth. And remember that Bluetooth took a good 5 years from its commercial introduction to really take off. Remember the application here is basically just cable elimination. Spending $200 on proprietary dongles to replace a $30 cable is only going to appeal to a very select audience. Having this stuff built into your devices, with the cost largely hidden to the consumer, and knowing that a Panasonic TV will work with a Samsung BD player means very large scale adoption.

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