CES - UWB, Wi-Fi and powerline vie for position

Providers of UWB, 802.11n and powerline networking products discussed why they think their products are ideal to stream high-definition video.

While many networking vendors, both wireless and wireline, diplomatically agree that no single networking technology will prevail in the connected home of the future, they are still battling over which technology is most suitable for streaming high-definition video.

"A home hybrid network of different technologies is the solution that will be the network topology," said Andy Melder, senior vice president of marketing and business development for Intellon, a developer of chips for powerline products. Powerline networking delivers data or video over existing power lines in a home through adaptors plugged into regular wall outlets.

Melder, along with other powerline networking executives who spoke on a panel on Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), said that wireless technologies, even the latest 802.11n standard, just won't do for streaming high definition television. "With content you have to have quality of service and that's very difficult to do with wireless," he said.

The powerline executives said 802.11n and other Wi-Fi technologies are best used in the home to share data while streaming video should be left to higher speed technologies like powerline.

But some wireless providers think differently. D-Link introduced on Monday its latest router that is expected to comply with the 802.11n standard. The router operates in the less crowded 5GHz frequency as well as the 2.4GHz band that is used in the popular 802.11g standard, said George Cravens, technical marketing engineer for D-Link. In addition, the router includes quality of service technology that prioritizes voice and video to help improve video streaming, he said.

D-Link also sells powerline adaptors but Cravens offers one good reason, also conceded by other powerline developers, why customers might not choose powerline over 802.11: price.

The cost of a pair of powerline adapters is about the same as an 802.11n router. The router can be used to stream data and video to a variety of devices around the home. But if users want to link more than two devices over the powerline network, they must buy additional adaptors.

Consumers will soon have another option to stream high-definition video, though only over short distances, with ultrawideband (UWB) technology. Tzero Technologies criticized both 802.11n and powerline networking for low quality compared to UWB. Power spikes and poor condition of lines can affect the quality of powerline networking and wireless, even 802.11n is just too slow, said Matthew Keowen, senior director of corporate marketing for Tzero. While 802.11n offers the speed necessary to transmit high-definition streaming, it might be stretched to support some additional services like fast forward and rewind, he said.

Tzero showed off at CES a new external UWB device made by Asustek Computer that includes Tzero chips. Users connect the small box to their high-definition television display to wirelessly stream data from a set-top box.

Keowen expects that later this year manufacturers will start selling televisions and set-top boxes with embedded UWB.

In addition to UWB, 802.11n and powerline, other wired networking standards are jockeying for position. For example, the Multimedia over Coax Alliance is working on a specification to transport entertainment content over coaxial cable and both UWB and powerline technology can run over coaxial cables.

The variety of options presents a dizzying array of options for end users. Keowen expects that there will be some shakeout among the different technologies. "There will be some standards that persist and others that go by the wayside," he said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?