By Harry McCracken | Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 2:44 pm
This I know: We need faster wireless home networks. The Roku box hitched up to my TV works fine most of the time, but it’s also prone to unexpected pauses and freezes–and sometimes gets the video and audio out of sync in an amusing fashion. The moment I try to do something else that involves shoving a lot of data across my network–like performing an online backup–things get really gnarly.
So even though the ink is barely dry on the document making today’s 802.11n standard official, I’m happy that major technology companies are pooling their resources to come up with faster wireless technology more suited to HD video and other demanding applications. But the thing is, there isn’t one consortium figuring out what’s next–there are three of them.
As Dean Takahashi reports on VentureBeat, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance is announcing its WiGig standard, which combines Wi-Fi with 60-GHz networking that’s theoretically ten times faster than 802.11n. WiGig joins WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface) and Wireless HD in the next-generation wireless race, inevitably bringing to mind that old saying: “The great thing about standards is that there are so many of them.”
As Dean notes, WiGig, WHDI, and Wireless HD aren’t trying to do exactly the same thing, and there are arguments in favor of all of them. But the fact that the industry’s pursuing a trio of related, overlapping standards still reminds me of the long, tedious, counterproductive squabbling that bogged down 802.11n’s progress–not to mention the equally pointless Blu-Ray/HD-DVD wars.
So I’m left with visions of consumers buying networking gear and gadgets that are doomed to obsolescence, and worrying that it’s going to be awhile before it’s clear which of these standards has legs and which doesn’t. Anyone want to make the case for competing standards being healthy? And is there anyone out there who knows more about these three than I and can outline their pros and cons?