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Report: Wi-Fi to remain home networking king

Mon, 06/28/2004 - 8:00pm
Karen Brown

Although newer technology will increase the competition, Wi-Fi should remain the king of home wireless networking, according to a new ABI Research report.

The Oyster Bay, N.Y. technology analysis firm found that while rival technologies, including powerline networking and Ultra Wide Band, will gain some traction in the next five years, Wi-Fi should maintain its dominance by banking on the new 802.11n standard promising connections as high as 100 Megabits per second.

Bandwidth will be a key issue, according to Phil Solis, ABI Research senior analyst. Wi-Fi technology siblings 802.11a and 802.11g can theoretically deliver connections of 54 Mbps, but the actual throughput is about half because of the overhead needed to maintain a wireless connection. Ultra Wide Band, meanwhile, can offer speeds on paper as high as 480 Mbps, but the first generation of chipsets due in 2005 and the first equipment arriving in 2006 and 2007 will support connections between 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps - and that doesn't take into account the same wireless overhead that cuts Wi-Fi throughputs in half, Solis found.

During that same time frame, the newest member of the 802.11 technology family - 802.11n - will have been ratified. That technology offers actual connections of 100 Mbps, more than enough to support multiple high-definition video and data streams.

"In the end, UWB will wind up being faster, and the chipsets will be cheaper," Solis concluded. "But if it's going to compete with Wi-Fi in home entertainment networking, it will probably be in non-real-time data transfer, such as moving video from a camera or camcorder to a PC, where distance is not an issue."

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