Companies 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, Intell, Sony 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.