Next-generation Wi-Fi tech to deliver IPTV

TV set-top makers plan to use Airgo's latest wireless technology to distribute video over Wi-Fi links throughout the home.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Next-generation Wi-Fi could soon be used to deliver IPTV throughout the home.

Airgo Networks, which makes Wi-Fi chips, announced Tuesday that Caton Overseas and STMicroelectronics will use its latest generation of wireless technology to distribute video over Wi-Fi links throughout the home. Caton is a Chinese maker of set-top boxes for satellite and cable TV providers in Asia and Europe, and STMicroelectronics provides chips to set-top box manufacturers such as Siemens and Cisco Systems' Scientific Atlanta.

Airgo has already been supplying wireless routing companies such as Linksys with high-performing Wi-Fi chips using a technology called MIMO or multiple input, multiple output, which improves Wi-Fi's range and throughput. MIMO is currently the primary basis for next-generation Wi-Fi standard 802.11n.

Now Airgo says it has tweaked its MIMO technology to improve the throughput, range and reliability of the signal enough to deliver high-quality video. Airgo's next-generation chips, called True MIMO Gen3, provided transmission speeds up to 240mbps when tested in Airgo's 6,000-square-foot model home, said Dave Borison, director of marketing for Airgo. This speed is enough to transmit three high-definition TV channels, he said.

Locating local internet providers

Carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon Communications, are spending billions of dollars upgrading their networks to deliver Internet Protocol-based TV service to consumers. But most homes today aren't equipped with Ethernet cabling, which has traditionally been used to deliver IP services. So one of the problems carriers face as they try to deliver IPTV, or Internet Protocol television, is finding a way to distribute the service to multiple TVs.

Wi-Fi provides a good alternative to Ethernet cabling, but until recently the technology has not provided enough capacity or reliability to be used for anything more than delivering data services.

Locating local internet providers

"Until now, the only way to get multiple TVs connected to an IPTV service was to use wires," Borison said. "Earlier wireless technology couldn't offer the performance to replace wires. But now it can."

Another company called Ruckus Wireless also specializes in optimizing Wi-Fi for video delivery. But Borison said that Ruckus uses old Wi-Fi technology to improve performance.

"The Ruckus technology is like souping up the engine of an old car," he said. "You'll improve the performance. But what we've done is actually replace the whole engine with a brand-new one."