The Wi-Fi Juggernaut Rolls on, Crushing Startups

The Wi-Fi Alliance has teamed up with a group founded by the big chip vendors to promote the standard wireless transfer of HD video across short distances at 7 Gbps, crushing the potential success of several startups that had been hoping to create standards of their own.

The going was always going to be tough for chipmakers hoping to use the relatively untouched spectrum at 60 GHz or even Wi-Fi’s spectrum at 5 GHZ to deliver wireless HD video through standards known as WirelessHD or WHDI. But once the WiGig Alliance was formed last year by Intel (s intc), Broadcom (s brcm) and Atheros (s ATHR), the future for startups such as SiBeam and Amimon dimmed considerably.

And now the WiGig Alliance has created a triple-threat in the form of a unified standard that means folks will be able to buy devices containing chips that can tune to Wi-Fi in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands as well as the WiGig standard at 60 GHz. That means your game console or iPad could next year have a chip that sends data at Wi-Fi speeds most of the time, but could jump up to WiGig speeds when it detects a need and a corresponding chip inside a television or other video screen.

Amimon has responded by issuing a press release reiterating the benefits of the WHDI standard at 5GHz, (it’s sold more than 500,000 chips so far!), notably how its related technology can work around an entire home, not merely in-room the way 60GHz technologies do. SiBeam, meanwhile, responded by saying it plans to make chips that are compatible with both its WirelessHD and the WiGig standard. It also said that the next-generation WirelessHD spec would deliver data rates of 10 Gbps.

So we’re on our way to wireless HD video, which is awesome, but along the way we’ve seen several chips companies that hoped to end up in the sector (namely ultra wideband startups) fall. And while that’s typical, it’s also a stark reminder that chip firms are big bets that don’t </generally pay off — and that you should never bet against Wi-Fi. Even the folks behind ZigBee, the home energy management standard , know that.

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