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How Wi-Fi Direct Adds New Peer-to-Peer Applications

Wireless LAN technology is evolving and it's about to enable a new series of applications that could present both new challenges and opportunities to broadband service providers. Already on the market in small numbers, Wi-Fi Direct is expected to reach a breakthrough in 2011.

The number of Wi-Fi Direct-enabled devices shipped will reach 173 million, according to the latest market study by In-Stat. Devices shipping with embedded Wi-Fi Direct in 2011 will be led by desktop PCs, digital TVs, mobile phones, and notebook PCs.

Wi-Fi Direct creates a much more powerful Wi-Fi solution, as it enables the premier wireless networking standard to add peer-to-peer capability, with no need for a Wi-Fi access point.

This creates a much more compelling standard, a type of one-stop-shop for wireless connectivity, and brings Wi-Fi into competition with specifications such as Bluetooth. And because Wi-Fi Direct is software based, the marginal cost of Wi-Fi Direct-enabled silicon over basic Wi-Fi silicon is negligible.

"Wi-Fi Direct enjoys wide backing from Wi-Fi silicon vendors," says Brian O'Rourke, Research Director at In-Stat. "Companies such as Atheros, Broadcom, CSR, Intel, Marvell, Qualcomm, Ralink, and Realtek all have plans for widespread release of Wi-Fi Direct-enabled silicon."

In fact, many of these companies received Wi-Fi Direct certification for at least one chip solution in the fourth quarter of 2010, shortly after the specification was released by the Wi-Fi Alliance in October. Ultimately though, the key to Wi-Fi Direct's success will lie in the application programming interface (APIs) software that is developed to make Wi-Fi Direct useful to the consumer.

In-Stat's latest market study found the following:

- Every PC, CE device, and mobile phone that ships in 2014 with Wi-Fi silicon will be Wi-Fi Direct-enabled.

- The Wi-Fi Direct-enabled device shipment compounded annual growth rate will be 79 percent between 2011 and 2015.

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