INTERVIEW: With a third group now entering the race to deliver a high-speed wireless technology in the home – and wireless HDTV products hitting the market – momentum is building.

John LeMoncheck, president and CEO of SiBEAM, and a leading member of the WirelessHD (WiHD) consortium, tells that he welcomes the addition of the rival Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance to the fray.

Over the past few years a number of wireless technologies have announced their intention to rid homes of cables and stream content around the home.

Their number was enlarged recently when the newly formed WiGig Alliance declared that it is to develop a high-bandwidth wireless specification before the year end.

The fact this group has the backing of household names such as Microsoft, LG, Dell, Samsung, Marvell, Nokia, NEC, Intel and Broadcom (among others), might have been cause enough for the competing groups to worry.

But WiGig’s plans to use the 60 GHz spectrum would have been a particular worry for the WirelessHD (WiHD) consortium, which also uses 60 GHz to send signals.

Not so, said John LeMoncheck, president and CEO of SiBEAM, and a leading member of WiHD.

He told that, in general, WiGig’s arrival was very good for the 60 GHz spectrum.

"This is the way in which the rest of the wireless world is going," he said. "There is room for multiple uses of the spectrum."

For LeMoncheck the adoption of the 60 GHz spectrum is also something of a personal vindication.

"When we first started talking about 60 GHz, they laughed me out of the meeting," he said.

"Now it is satisfying to see the big guys focusing on this technology."

He added: "There’s not a better or more cost-effective way to do this."

Growing Interest

WiGig joining the other competing groups – WiHD and the Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) – also highlights the growing interest in wireless technologies.

However, LeMoncheck said he would question whether WiGig was actually in direct competition with WiHD – which he described as very consumer electronics focused.

"WiGig have not been able to clearly elucidate what they want," he said.

"They are trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people, which can lead to a standard that’s not any use to anyone."

That’s definitely not the case with WiHD, according to LeMoncheck, who said he was very happy with the progress being made.

This year has seen the first WiHD-enabled products come to market in Japan and Korea, with launches from Panasonic, LG and Toshiba.

Panasonic’s Z1 WirelessHD Plasma

He said more HDTVs are going to be launched in the US and Europe this summer.

"It has been a very exciting first half of the year for the rollout of the product," he said.

"We are working hard to have products come out and work seamlessly."

This has included publishing compliance test procedures in January – tests that all products have to pass before being able to carry the WiHD logo.

And facilities offering WiHD testing are now also operational.

A further boost has come from Philips joining the WiHD consortium as a promoter company.

This brings the total number of promoter companies up to 10 and there are 40 firms associated with the WiHD standard.

Pieces in Place

"All the infrastructure is there to bring products to market," said LeMoncheck.

"We have had tremendous traction in the market and other tier 1 guys should be launching in the fall."

While products using the WiHD technology are in the high-to-mid range price bracket, LeMoncheck said they were working on bringing the cost down.

The use of general-purpose complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology is expected to help with this, and he expected to see products in 42" range and lower as a result.

"We can pick very friendly CMOS geometry, so we have room to migrate down as smaller geometry gets further down the cost curve," he said.

"We can cut a lot of the cost from a system."

That will undoubtedly be welcomed by consumers – as will the fact that wireless-enabled products are finally making their way onto the shelves.

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