Faster WLAN in the Works

 
 
By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2004-06-14 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Even without an official IEEE blessing, faster multisignal WLAN technology is on tap from one Silicon Valley developer, while several large chip makers test the waters.

Even without an official IEEE blessing, faster multisignal WLAN technology is on tap from one Silicon Valley developer, while several large chip makers test the waters.

Airgo Networks Inc.s True MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) technology will appear this week for the first time in wireless LAN access points and CardBus cards from SOHOware Inc. and Planex Communications Inc., said Airgo officials in Palo Alto, Calif.

A handful of other companies, including Asian manufacturers Taiyo Yuden Inc. and Askey Computer Corp., are also readying products based on True MIMO for release by the end of the year, Airgo officials said.

True MIMO runs multiple data streams in the same radio channel using so-called smart-antenna technology. The results are throughput speeds comparable to those of wired Fast Ethernet, as well as increased access point range, officials said.

MIMO technology works by taking advantage of multipath propagation. It uses the normally superfluous signals that are a byproduct of RF (radio-frequency) transmission, said Greg Raleigh, CEO of Airgo.

Larger WLAN chip-set vendors are also experimenting with MIMO. Officials at Atheros Communications Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., said the company is experimenting with various iterations of the technology in its labs. While Atheros will not comment on specific product plans, officials said an announcement regarding extended distance is due this summer.

Intel Corp. has MIMO in the labs as well, with plans to include it in its Centrino chip sets, said spokesperson Kari Skoog in Santa Clara, Calif. But Intel wont commit until after 802.11n is ratified.

Airgo describes True MIMO as "prestandard 802.11n," loosely based on the 802.11n WLAN spec from the IEEE, which will use some variant of MIMO to improve throughput rates to 100M bps.

Broadcom says it will release "prestandard 802.11n" products. Click here to read more. Cisco Systems Inc., for one, plans to wait for official ratification before supporting 802.11n. "No prestandard 802.11n can claim compliance with the eventual standard, rendering any current pre-802.11n offering essentially proprietary," said Ron Seide, senior product line manager at Cisco, in Richfield, Ohio.

Some users wont wait for the standard. "If it works and is released by a reputable and stable company, we are all over it," said Eric Fowler, chief operating officer of Generation IX Technologies Inc., in Los Angeles.

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