Wireless Gigabit Alliance is Wilocity's gain and Wisair's pain

Broadcom VP Nambi Seshadri: Wireless technology start-ups, funds, and large companies must work together to share the risk.

A new wireless technology is seeking to break into the decade-old wireless communications market. The new technology, based on the 60 GHz bandwidth, can support data transmission of 1.6 Gigabits per second (Gbps), with the objective of bringing short-range communications to equilibrium.

In an effort to establish the technology 802.11ac/802.11dc as a new industry standard, a group of companies set up the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance in May, with the goal of creating a unified specification that will comply with existing standards.

WiGig's founders are no surprise and testify to the forces in play. Broadcom Corporation (Nasdaq: BRCM) and Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC) are the leaders, alongside Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR), Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), LG Electronics Inc. (KSX), Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL), MediaTek Inc. (Taipei: 2454), Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT), NEC Corporation (Nasdaq: NIPNY; TSE: 6701), Nokia Corporation (NYSE; LSE; HEX: NOK), Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC; TSE: 6752), Samsung Electronics Co. (KSX: 5930) and Israeli start-up Wilocity Ltd. - the only start-up to join the alliance.

The standard that WiGig is urging is not only significant on the technical side, but also strategically for the companies and for the many standards that emerged over the past ten years.

The focus on the 60 GHz band for data communications also affects a number of Israeli start-ups. One is WisAir Ltd., a fabless semiconductor company that is developing ultra wide band (UWB) processors. Both Broadcom and Intel have invested in it. For Wisair, 60 GHz is another nail in the coffin for UWB.

Broadcom VP and CTO Mobile and Wireless Group Dr. Nambi Seshadri told "Globes", "Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on UWB technology, but BT-AMB (the most advanced version of Bluetooth) has successfully filled the short-range high-speed PAN (personal area network) needs." The comment hints as to why Broadcom did not participate in Wisair's last financing round, held in early 2008.

Two other Israeli start-ups in the field are Celeno Ltd. and Amimon Inc., both are fabless semiconductor companies developing processors for high-speed wireless communications. Amimon, which could be one of the first victims of the new standard, actually considers itself part of the WiGig Alliance and believes that it can profit from it.

"This is an opportunity for us," Amimon chairman and CEO Dr. Yoav Nissan-Cohen told "Globes", a stance that Broadcom agrees with.

The new 802.11ac/ad standard demonstrates once again that developments by Israeli wireless communications start-ups are high risk ventures. Seshadri has a clear opinion on the direction that start-ups ought to choose. "The model in this field should be changed to a situation in which start-ups, funds, and large companies work together to share the risk in developing new technologies," he says.

Seshadri adds, "The natural development step in local wireless networks is to provide a speed of several gigabits per second, which 60 GHz will do."

A possible application of the performance that Seshadri describes is for high-definition (HD) movies such as copying a 25 Gb Blu-Ray disk in less than one minute.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 16, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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