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IBM Looks to deliver HD Wirelessly

When IBM took the wraps off a new HD wireless transmission system much of the attention was on using it as a solution for home networking applicatons. But Brian Gaucher, manager of the senior research team responsible for the radio, told HD Updaate that with the use of special antennas, its range can extend out to as far as a kilometer, making it a possible solution for HD transmission needs.

The technology was born out of IBM’s efforts to find a place in the spectrum that was fairly free of congestion. A safe haven was found in 60 GHz range. IBM then began the hard work of making a system that could work at those high frequencies.

“We decided to push the silicon out to 60GHz to see what happened and it actually worked,” he says. “So now the next step is to start building applications around it.”

Data rates on the service top out at 1 Gbps in the real world and 2 Gbps in the lab environment. Those speeds, says Gaucher, give it a competitive advantage in the marketplace. “The service that competes with this is Ultra Wideband which can deliver data rates of about 480 Mbps,” says Gaucher.

Among the potential near-term applications are using it to send large photo files from cameras instantly or for an HD-capable iPod-like device that could download HD video without waiting hours.

“We were able to pull the hardware together really well and build a two-chip integrated solution that doesn’t require a waveguide or high-frequency interfaces,” he says. “The huge piece that is missing is the DSP protocol engine to drive the hardware.”

Gaucher says third-party companies will be able to design receivers for cellphones with 60 GB hard drive that could download movies in seconds. “We’ll partner with a third party and marry our chip to the application-specific solution they want,” he says. “We expect to see some of those rolling out in a year or two.”

Along with the mobile applications is the ability to distribute HD signals in a home wirelessly. For cable operators and satellite providers looking for home-networking solutions the IBM system could be the start of something big.