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Ruckus promises home HDTV over Wi-Fi

9 March 2006

Silicon Valley start-up Ruckus Wireless has announced Europe’s first commercial deployment of a ‘triple-play’ wireless home network, using equipment making its European debut at the recent iptvworldforum at London’s Olympia, writes Richard Dean.

Subscribers to the broadband service from Dublin-based Magnet Entertainment in Ireland will have access to the internet, a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone service, and IP-based TV – all via a small transmitter and matching receivers from Ruckus, using a patent-pending ‘smart Wi-Fi’ implementation of the popular wireless technology.

"Previous attempts at using Wi-Fi for television have failed, because the standard was never designed to deliver 24 frames of video each second in real time," EMEA Sales VP Rob Mustarde told TVB-E. "Our system works by prioritising different types of traffic coming into the system, and automatically steering the Wi-Fi beam around interference on-the-fly, by bouncing signals off walls for instance."

With today’s Wi-Fi 802.11g standard, Ruckus puts the practical network-wide bit rate at between 15Mbps to 20Mbps. This equates to three streams of standard definition (SD) TV encoded with MPEG-2, or one SD service and one HD service using MPEG-4. However capacity is expected to more than double when the new Wi-Fi 802.11n proposal currently before the IEEE is ratified in about a year. The same bandwidth is shared for both received programmes and video playback, alongside internet and VoIP activities.

To bring IPTV to the home, Magnet has developed one of Europe’s fastest broadband services using a combination of ADSL 2+ (the higher-speed version of the conventional Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line broadband connection) for twisted-pair copper connections, coupled with an ongoing roll-out of Fibre To The Home (FTTH) infrastructure offering bit rates of up to 100Mbps.

Magnet previously distributed signals around the home by using engineers to install obtrusive runs of brightly coloured Cat 5 cable. Ruckus says its ‘plug and play’ equipment eliminates this costly and time-consuming step, as subscribers can connect it themselves in about seven minutes with no computer-style set-up routines. Magnet currently offers 66 channels of IPTV and is rolling out video on demand (VoD) services this month. Ruckus-equipped subscribers select which channels they want to distribute wirelessly around the home.

The deal follows a deployment of Ruckus wireless home networks for PCCW in Hong Kong, claimed to be the largest IPTV company in the world. "With BT due to launch its own IPTV service in late summer, the UK is set to catch up with other countries in Europe, where France, Italy and Spain each already have more than 250,000 IPTV subscribers," said Mustarde, adding that the Ruckus equipment is currently being trialled by 40 carriers in Europe. "We’re pushing at an open door," he said.

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