SiBeam leads charge on next-generation wireless home networking

The next-generation wireless networking market is still a battleground, but SiBeam thinks that its version of the technology has an edge. The company is announcing today that it has a new wave of support around its 60-gigahertz WirelessHD products.

If a big ecosystem comes together around SiBeam’s technology — or that of its rivals — then consumers could enjoy a new wave of wireless products, such as displays that have no cables or PCs that can effortlessly display the highest-quality videos on flat-screen TVs. SiBeam made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show, the big tech show in Las Vegas this week.

Both sides are making progress in the march toward faster wireless networking. But there’s no telling yet who will triumph. So some of the consumer electronics manufacturers are supporting both camps. Still other groups, such as the Multimedia over Coax Alliance, want users to transfer data within the home over cable TV wiring.

SiBeam’s chips can wirelessly transfer data at 4 gigabits a second across a distance of 10 meters. Beyond that, the data rate degrades with increasing distance but can reach beyond 30 meters. At its fastest, the wireless transfer speed is about 10 times faster than traditional Wi-Fi wireless networking. SiBEAM does this by using the higher-frequency 60 gigahertz band of the wireless spectrum.

There is, however, a lot of competition. A group known as the Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) is headed by the rival startup Amimon, which makes wireless networking chips. WHDI announced this week that a number of new consumer electronics companies — Haier, Hisense, TCL and Vivitek — are demonstrating WHDI wireless networking  products at CES. Makers of PCs, tablets, and mobile devices are also showing off WHDI products. Amimon’s technology uses the 5-gigahertz spectrum to transfer data wirelessly as much as 30 meters at hundreds of megabits per second.

SiBeam, meanwhile, said that its supporters include Dell (which will include the WirelessHD capability on a new Alienware M17x R3 gaming laptop). Asus will also use WirelessHD in a couple of laptops. Abocom will introduce WirelessHD docking stations for the iPad and iPhone. Vizio will showcase TV components that use the WirelessHD technology, and Monster will also show off high-definition multimedia (HDMI) adapters using WirelessHD.

Best Buy has also begun selling a WirelessHD in-house wireless networking product. And SiBeam said it has partnered with graphics chip maker Nvidia and contract manufacturer Foxconn. A third consortium, the WiGig alliance, hopes to combine 60-gigahertz technology with traditional Wi-Fi in a new wireless networking standard. SiBEAM supports that effort but is forging ahead with its own products and consortium in the meantime.

SiBeam said it plans to launch its third generation of chips in 2011 and a fourth generation in 2012. Those chips will have better performance at a lower cost, and at some point, SiBeam will support wireless networking in mobile products as well as higher video resolutions. SiBeam was formed in 2004 and recently raised $36.5 million in venture funding.