Wireless Systems Design

802.11a Carries High-Definition Video

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When it comes to streaming video, it's easier to focus one's imaginings on whiz-bang handhelds than on bulkier devices. But the wireless-entertainment revolution isn't going to neglect the TV room or the desktop computer at the office. Research and development is already focusing on those areas for wireless entertainment. Just check out the chip recently demonstrated by Agere Systems (www.agere.com). It is the industry's first 162-Mbps high-speed wireless-networking chip.

This innovation was achieved at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. The chip was developed to support high-definition video in future 802.11-based home-entertainment and enterprise-desktop-PC applications (see figure). Eventually, this breakthrough should allow wireless data networks to match the speed and capacity of current wired networks. Users could then enjoy reliable wireless-network access while using applications like high-definition video, which require higher rates of data transmission.

During the demonstration, the next-generation chips proved themselves capable of transmitting wireless data in excess of 162 Mbps in the 5-GHz frequency band. By combining Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Mul-tiplexing (OFDM) technologies, Agere's demonstration platform increases data rates in the currently available radio spectrum for wireless multimedia.

To guard against interference, OFDM divides the frequency band into numerous parallel sub-channels. Meanwhile, MIMO transmission raises data rates with several antennas. The antennas transmit data streams at 54 Mbps. In addition, all of the antennas operate in the same frequency. Together, the OFDM and MIMO technologies are able to produce a robust wireless data link that can transmit data at more than 162 Mbps, depending on the total number of antennas deployed.

The Agere platform transmits data using IEEE 802.11a technology. It utilizes three separate transmitter and receiver antennas, as the growth in data throughput increases proportionally to the number of antennas. Agere plans to refine this technology to meet anticipated customer demand in late-2004 for solutions that tie together the Internet, television, audio, and other broadband services wirelessly.

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