RealTime IT News

Vendor Guarantees Better Range, Performance

Jacksonville, Fla.-based ParkerVision is offering customers a money back guarantee on a its line of wireless products which promises to extend Wi-Fi's range while eliminating interference.

ParkerVision will begin selling four-port wireless routers, notebook Wi-Fi access cards and USB adapters under the SignalMAX brand name. Computer retailer CompUSA will begin stocking SignalMAX devices on its store shelves this month.

The devices are aimed at home and office consumers frustrated by the limited range of Wi-Fi signals or by dead zones where wireless networking is seemingly impossible. ParkerVision "guarantees coverage of an entire home without the need or cost of repeaters, boosters, or special high-gain antennas," according to a company statement.

If consumers are not satisfied, "we'll take it back," says Jeffrey Parker, chairman and CEO of ParkerVision. It's a money back guarantee, confirms company spokesman Mike Becce.

For wireless ISPs or enterprises interested in using Wi-Fi to cover longer distances, ParkerVision is guaranteeing its SignalMAX brand devices can reach up to one mile outdoors.

The performance comes from the company's patented Direct2Data (D2D) wireless technology, which uses digital signal processing, rather than traditional analog techniques.

"The practical benefit of our D2D technology is the ability to field products that deliver significantly better performance in range and reliability than products based on traditional analog RF transceivers," said Parker.

Although the company says its new routers and access cards will perform well with gear from other manufacturers, SignalMAX devices must be used on both ends to ensure maximum distance.

The SignalMAX product line will allow consumers to "use Wi-Fi in more places and work in more places they couldn't before," says Parker.

While the announcement of ParkerVision's retail agreement with CompUSA happened Thursday, field tests have been underway for almost a year. In October 2003, ParkerVision announced the Horizons Wireless line and its leap from being purely a manufacturer of Wi-Fi parts to a product vendor selling to end users.

"Horizon was a test bed" for SignalMAX, says Parker. After the release of the HZ1500 802.11g/b CardBus PC Card, "consumers started saying they could see hotspots they couldn't" before, according to Parker.

"We saw the opportunity to control the whole solution," says Parker. "Here's an opportunity to make a brand name," says the ParkerVision executive.

Parker says his company's SignalMAX gear will be able to compete with other Wi-Fi devices on the market that claim to extend the range or boost the signal.

"With those, you have to know what's broke [the AP or the client access card] before you can fix it," says Parker.

Saying SignalMAX products show "resilience to interference," Parker explains that testing was done where the devices are usually placed, not in locations where they would deliver optimal performance. APs, for example, were placed five feet off the ground and client devices at three feet off the ground.

Asked whether SignalMAX products can compete with low-priced Wi-Fi gear, Parker says, at $99 for access cards, "we're at a premium, but not a crazy premium."

While hesitant to outline plans for future product announcements, Parker says the SignalMAX brand will eventually include devices "with even more extended distance."