SiBeam creates way to combine different next-generation wireless networks

SiBeam is announcing a new chip today that will combine next-generation wireless networking devices. That means consumers will be able to surf the wireless web at high speeds in their homes without worrying too much about the fact that there are three different wireless network standards.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SiBeam is a leader of the WirelessHD consortium, whose technology uses the 60-gigahertz wireless radio spectrum to transfer data at multiple gigabits per second over a distance of about 10 meters or so inside a home. The company has been shipping 60-gigahertz chip sets based on WirelessHD since 2008. The whole point of 60-gigahertz is to enable consumers to transfer multiple streams of high-definition video around the home at once.

But there are two other standards out there: WiGig and WHDI. WiGig is a 60-gigahertz network that is compatible with standard Wi-Fi. It can transfer data at 7 gigabits per second for 10 meters. Beyond that distance, it can switch over to Wi-Fi and transfer data about 10 times slower, at the 802.11n speed of 600 megabits a second. Now SiBeam is creating a chip set that will be able to operate as either a WirelessHD network or a WiGig network device.

SiBeam was formed in 2004 and recently raised $36.5 million in venture funding. Consumer electronics products from Best Buy’s Rocketfish brand, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Cables To Go, Gefen, and Sony have been shipping over the last year. The combined WirelessHD-WiGig combo products might ship in 2011.

While the WirelessHD-WiGig combination product will solve one problem of compatibility, there is as yet no compatibility between WirelessHD and WHDI, which is supported by Amimon and transfers data at 3 gigabits per second in the 5-gigahertz wireless radio spectrum. This is something for the market to sort out.

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