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Standards Or Not, Vendors Push Ahead On Wireless Set-Top Boxes

Airgo Networks is combining its True MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) Media Gen3 wireless radio module chips with STMicroelectronics' STx7100 set-top box components and software to turbocharge existing wireless standards.

Wireless TV set-top boxes could hit the market as early as this fall. A wireless chipset company and an electronic component maker are teaming to let manufacturers make the devices a year before an anticipated standard for them is approved.

Airgo NetworksAirgo Networks is combining its True MIMO Media Gen3 wireless radio module chips with STMicroelectronics' STx7100 set-top box components and software to turbocharge existing wireless standards such as 802.11g, which operates at 54 Mbps, so they run at speeds up to 240 Mbps. The move will let manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, and Cisco-owned Scientific Atlanta build wireless boxes that can stream TV, movies, and high-definition content through homes and link PCs and TVs.

Consumers tired of tangling with cables behind their TVs, or wanting to send IPTV or digital photos from a PC to a TV, will provide the market for wireless set-top boxes. But current wireless standards generally lack the bandwidth to handle video, says Peter King, an analyst with StrategyAnalytics. Makers of the devices have been waiting for the IEEE 802.11n wireless standard, which is expected to support high-def TV. It won't be ratified for at least a year.

Any wireless box developed before the ratification of IEEE 802.11n could be incompatible with the standard, King says. Airgo says its technology is a candidate for inclusion in the new standard; the company will offer products based on 802.11n once it's stable. They will be backward compatible with older wireless standards.

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