Michael Hurlston, vice president and general manager of the home and wireless business unit at Broadcom, said that many security and quality-of service features for 802.11n can attract businesses seeking upgrades from b/g. Simple market dynamics, however, indicate that enterprise markets will be snowed under by potential retail and reseller markets for the digital home.
Home hobbyists have worked on distributing standard-definition 802.11g TV streams in the home, Hurlston said. The emerging 802.11n not only improves bandwidth and range, but also offers better forward error correction and QoS.
For Atheros, the better performance advantages of 5.7-GHz 802.11n and the limitations of using the 2.4-GHz band for the new standard, mean developers will quickly move the new WLAN standard into the higher unlicensed band. Broadcom executives are less certain of this. Hurlston said he thinks PC OEMs will ship dual-band versions of 802.11n with LAN on the motherboard, while retail home-router players will ship single-band 2.4-GHz products.
The wild card will be played by carriers, both cable TV and telephony, that may offer 802.11n in residential gateways. For the carriers, better TV performance may warrant 5.7-GHz platforms, Hurlston said.
Developers of both 802.11n and ultrawideband silicon agree that the technologies will coexist in the home. The question is where the two will meet and overlap. Rajeev Krishnamoorthy, founder and chief technology officer of UWB company Tzero Technologies Inc., said that 802.11n will always have an important role to play in access platforms like laptops, but that the access pipe into the home always will represent a bottleneck compared with the high-speed PAN responsible for carrying signals between media devices.
Some WLAN gateway makers developing 802.11n are bullish enough on the opportunities of antenna diversity to suggest that UWB's only role will be as a strict serial-interconnect replacement, particularly for Certified Wireless USB. Hurlston of Broadcom said that such a view ignores the gains UWB has made in non-USB apps, such as the wireless HDMI model Tzero and Analog Devices Inc. have developed.
"The key here is what goes inside the TV set. Ruckus and others working on the gateway side of 802.11 are betting on the integration of a module directly inside the TV. I haven't seen manufacturers leaping to this so far," Hurlston said. "On the other hand, UWB could go inside the TV or set-top box as an HDMI replacement, and there is already an interface model OEMs are familiar with. That kind of relationship between 802.11n and UWB seems much more likely."
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