As wireless networking becomes more pervasive, extending to mobile computers, cell-phones and handhelds, one expert believes that the next generation of ultra fast wireless computing technology may be ready to take off.
Issues that stifled wide-spread adoption of the high-speed 802.11n wireless standard should be in the past, according to Srini Pajjuri, research analyst at Merrill Lynch. The firm sees several catalysts that should accelerate adoption for 2007.
We expect the overall WiFi chipset market to grow about 25 percent in 2007 aided by 802.11n, game consoles, and mobile devices, Pajjuri asserts.
The next generation wireless standard was ratified in January of 2006, however proliferation of the technology has been slower than expected. Though nearly six times faster than today's ubiquitous 802.11g, the 802.11n technology has had interoperability issues, a lack of a killer app, and high chipset prices.
Vendors initially rushed to get hardware compliant to the 802.11n draft out the door, leaving a number of incompatible and low-performing devices in its wake. The market has since matured, Pajjuri says, with channel inventory normalizing.
We expect 802.11n chipset orders to rebound in the next 1 â€“ 2 quarters and believe that a combination of maturing technology, declining prices, and other catalysts could drive chipset demand to about 30-35mn units in 2007.
Major technology companies, such as Apple and Intel, will also stir growth this year the analyst believes.
Intel will begin to offer 802.11n technology in its Centrino platform -a standard adopted in a leading share of notebook computers. Pajjuri says Intel's entry will likely prompt an upgrade cycle in the market, pushing all vendors.
And while today's 802.11g can realize speeds of 54Mbps, The peak data rate for 802.11n is expected to be 300-500Mbps - making it perfect for transferring large files, even video.
Apple Inc.'s AppleTV device, announced at this years MacWorld Expo is one of the first consumer devices to take advantage of this speed, allowing users to transfer files from their computer in one room, to their TV's in another.
Cable and satellite set top box vendors have been somewhat lukewarm to wireless networking but competition from Apple is likely to put more pressure on them to offer WiFi enabled set top boxes sooner than later, Pajjuri concludes.