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AT & T goes Wi-Fi for multi-room HD

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 7:50am
Brian Santo

Wi-Fi is good enough for distributing HD in the home after all – at least for AT&T, apparently. Cisco has received FCC approval for a set-top box that incorporates a Wi-Fi N router that AT&T is expected to use in U-verse installations.

"AT&T appears to be using the extreme compression of their video as a competitive advantage," said Stephen Froehlich, a senior analyst with IMS Research's Consumer Electronics group. IMS appeared to have been first to notice the FCC approval and spread word of the new Cisco device through a press release with its analysis of the box.

"U-Verse's comparatively low HD video bit rates are allowing them to use a relatively inexpensive 2 x 2 dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi radio based on the BRCM4717 for this application," Froehlich said.

IMS noted that U-verse HD is encoded at approximately 5 Mbps, compared with 5 to 8 Mbps for HDTV over satellite and 16 Mbps for HDTV over cable.

"This means that the satellite, and especially the cable providers, will need far more elaborate wireless solutions to enable them to stream video over a wireless network," Froehlich said.

The Cisco set-top, designated the ISB7005, appears to be a client device; it is not a DVR. It also includes Ethernet and HomePNA ports.

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