Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) is one of the most successful networking technologies ever, and IPTV set-top provider Amino Communications announced this week that it is tapping into a powerful variant of Wi-Fi to boost the capability of its deployed products to share video within a home network.
The technology that Amino selected comes from Celeno Communications, an Israeli-based provider of semiconductors for multi-media Wi-Fi home networking applications. In its products, Celeno leverages “beam forming,” an option in the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. Chips with Celeno’s 3×3 (three transmit, three receive) “OptimizAIR” technology will power devices that enhance existing Amino set-tops.
In particular, Amino is deploying bridges and dongles. Wi-Fi/Ethernet bridges powered by one Celeno chip will enable whole-home wireless and PVR functionality to after-market Amino IP set-tops, including the Aminet A130, A140 and A540; and Wi-Fi/USB dongles using another chip will enable after-market boxes to receive HD IPTV and OTT content.
Celeno’s video-grade Wi-Fi technology is deployed by several service providers, including: Amis Telekom, Bouygues Telekom, Deutsche Telekom, iiNEt and Liberty Global. Celeno VP Marketing Lior Weiss said that in the cases of Bouygues and Liberty his company’s chips have been integrated into a Samsung cable gateway device. Other OEM partners include Agama, FiberHome, Inteno, LEA, Technicolor and Telenor.
According to Celeno, beam forming (aka smart antenna) uses multiple, closely spaced antenna to transmit phased signals to maximize radiated power in a particular direction, while canceling interference from other directions. Weiss said that one of Celeno’s differentiators is that it uses both “explicit” and “implicit” beam forming. “It is a self-calibrated solution,” he said. “We need no assistance from clients for the calibration. It’s completely client-agnostic.”
Another early promoter of beam forming technology is Wi-Fi device manufacturer Ruckus Wireless, a U.S.-based company formed in 2004. Weiss said Celeno, which does not provide chips to Ruckus, deployed its first beam forming technology over 802.11a in 2007.
While interference and configuration challenges have dogged Wi-Fi, its use is on the rise. In a report lease this week, In-Stat expects the number of in-home wireless local area network (WLAN)-based video devices to reach 600 million in 2015. “Wi-Fi has moved from a nice-to-have feature to a must-have feature as it provides the connectivity necessary to support IP-based content,” In-Stat VP of Research Frank Dickson said in a statement.