Two wireless internet groups have decided to cooperate on standards, paving the way for consumers to access high-speed wireless networks without compatibility problems. Those next-generation wireless networks will be critical for moving high-definition video around homes using wireless instead of wired networks.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, which represents existing wireless networking players, is hooking up with the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig), which is promoting a higher speed wireless networking technology. The combination means that two different wireless technologies will be built into the same chips and assures that consumers won’t have a lot of hassles when adopting wireless gear. The combination isn’t unexpected, but the announcement shows that the different groups are making progress in bringing the technology to market.

The WiGig Alliance consists of a bunch of companies that are promoting 60-gigahertz wireless networking, which can offer transfer speeds that are 10 times faster than 802.11n Wi-Fi used today. But the 60-gigahertz solution is short range, with high speeds of about 7 gigabits per second guaranteed for the first 10 meters or so. By combining this solution with Wi-Fi, you get the best of both worlds. Beyond 10 meters and up to 100 meters, the standard 802.11n Wi-Fi networking takes over using the 2.4 gigahertz or 5 gigahertz bands of the wireless spectrum. The 802.11n speeds can reach about 600 megabits per second. So if you have a WiGig chip in a router or a laptop, you will see gradual degradation in networking speed the farther away you are from the router.

The compatibility that WiGig will have with the Wi-Fi technology is important because there are more than 7,000 products out there that use Wi-Fi. Ali Sadri, president and chairman of the WiGig Alliance, said in an interview he was pleased with the progress the groups are making on getting the technology into the market.

As noted, this alliance was expected. There are now 17 companies supporting the WiGig Alliance, which completed its specification back in December. Unfortunately, there are still some other competing networking technologies out there in the wireless realm, and the overall effect of the three different technologies will be consumer confusion.

The rival Wireless High Definition Interface (WHDI) group completed its standard this week as well and will create a network that can transfer data in the 5-gigahertz spectrum at speeds up to 3 gigabits a second, with a range of 100 meters. And SiBEAM is heading the Wireless HD consortium to make 60-gigahertz wireless chips for networking inside a room. Some of the members, such as Samsung and Sony, are betting on all three horses.

It may be possible to build wireless networks that are compatible across the networks. That can be done by putting more than one chip into a wireless device such as a laptop or a wireless access point. We’ll be telling you about this kind of development in a few hours, so stay tuned.

The wireless chips from all three groups will likely be built into next-generation PCs, mobile handsets, TVs, displays, Blu-ray players, digital cameras and a variety of other gadgets. WHDI focuses on transferring video, while SiBEAM may focus on replacing cables in a home electronics network. WiGig, meanwhile, accommodates both the Wi-Fi and WHDI uses.

The demand will likely materialize for these wireless networks as consumers start sending video wirelessly from one room to another and multiple users try to watch different web-based videos in the home at the same time. The WiGig group has been working for about two years on the standard.

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