Airgo Wireless LAN Tech Due for Debut

Belkin is set to introduce products based on Airgo Networks' MIMO smart-antenna technology.

Airgo Networks Inc. has a new licensee prepared to put the vendors multisignal wireless LAN technology in the hands of users this fall.

Belkin Corp. will introduce two products based on Airgos True MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) smart-antenna technology, said Airgo officials in Palo Alto, Calif.

MIMO technology works by taking advantage of multipath propagation, running multiple data streams in one radio channel. It uses the normally superfluous signals that are a byproduct of RF (radio-frequency) transmission. Airgos True MIMO technology has throughput rates of up to 108M bps per channel. In the first quarter of next year, Airgo plans to introduce a chip set that runs almost four times that fast, officials said.

Belkins line of products, which will incorporate Airgos first-generation chip set, include a router for $180 and a notebook network card for $130. They are due in October. Belkin, in Compton, Calif., is also working on a line of wireless phones, officials said.

A version of MIMO is expected to serve as the basis for the 802.11n high-speed/high-distance standard now under development at the IEEE. Many enterprises said they intend to wait for the ratification of 802.11n before considering any MIMO-based products.

"We pretty much always wait for the standard," said Gary Jenkins, senior network engineer at Sharp HealthCare, in San Diego. "We need to make sure we have far-reaching support for it, and we need to wait for interoperability reasons." But since 802.11n likely wont be ratified before 2006, Airgo is going ahead with proprietary products, deeming them "pre-n."

"Its very similar to pre-g," said Greg Raleigh, president and CEO of Airgo, referring to the proprietary chip sets that Atheros Communications Inc. and Broadcom Corp. introduced before the 802.11g standard was ratified last year.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about Broadcoms new single-chip 802.11g radio thats designed to save money and battery life while increasing range.

Airgos rivals take issue with the companys use of pre-n, noting that the IEEE has yet to present even an initial draft of the 802.11n standard.

The companies working on draft proposals fall into two basic camps. One includes Atheros, Broadcom, Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and others. The other includes Airgo, Conexant Systems Inc., Motorola Inc. and others.

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