Broadcom Goes the Distance

Broadcom will introduce two new 802.11g radio chip sets designed to extend access point range.

Broadcom Corp. will introduce two new 802.11g radio chip sets designed to extend access point range.

The BCM4318E and BCM5352E incorporate the companys proprietary BroadRange method of rerouting signal paths to maximize performance. The new transceivers can extend connections by 50 percent over current devices, provided both the client and the router are equipped with BroadRange technology, said officials in Irvine, Calif.

Such added distance can be a mixed blessing, however. "If you were on the road and wanted to highjack the network connection, youd be thankful for something like this," said Steve Durst, a research engineer at Skaion Corp., a security consultancy in North Chelmsford, Mass. Durst said he regularly deals with intruders trying to access his wireless connection. Broadcom does offer security setup software using WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about Broadcoms new single-chip 802.11g wireless LAN radio.

BroadRange allows devices to stay connected longer at maximum speeds before shifting to lower data rates to maintain a connection without dropping packets; this downshift is par for the course in WLANs (wireless LANs). (The maximum data rate for 802.11g is 54M bps, but device manufacturers can boost that rate as much as 40 percent if they choose to use Broadcoms proprietary 125 High Speed Mode.)

BroadRange also uses signal condition techniques to improve range at lower data rates, officials said.

"Essentially, were giving a hearing aid to the wireless LAN," said Jeff Abromowitz, a spokesperson for Broadcom.

The BCM4318E is a single-chip radio for client devices. It is available in CardBus and PC Card versions and is shipping in volume production. Client devices that include the new chip will be available by the end of the year.

Officials said that it will appear in VOIP (voice over IP) handsets, which require the low-power consumption of a single-chip product.

The BCM5352E is a dual-chip product that supports Fast Ethernet switching in addition to 802.11g. It is in sample production now and will be in volume production early next year, officials said.

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