John McKinley, chief technology officer at Merrill Lynch, told a New York audience in May that set-top box manufacturers are planning to build cable boxes that include transceivers based on 802.11, a high-speed wireless technology.
Currently, customers who have both cable TV and broadband cable modem services need a cable box, a cable modem, and multiple cable outlets within the home. Customers with DSL and cable have two distinct setups. But if a cable box included a wireless connection, a single cable line entering the home could deliver cable TV and broadband. The cable box–with its 802.11 connection–could simultaneously transmit video to other TVs and Internet traffic to one or more PCs within the home.
Combining broadband and cable service could enable the redistribution of cable content through PCs, a concept that distresses movie and television studios, which have launched a legal battle against SonicBlue, a manufacturer of digital video recorders whose newest device allows the distribution of recorded television over networks. In addition, with such a combination, a neighborhood with many 802.11-equipped cable boxes could become one large wireless network in which each house serves as a node. Theoretically, then, one could surf the Net and receive cable TV just by being within the confines of the network.