RealTime IT News

Is 1Gbps Wi-Fi on the Horizon?

Could the lowly 802.11b become a 99Mbps speed-demon? How about 802.11a breaking the 1Gbps barrier? Difficult to imagine? Israel-based Extricom says its possible—if Wi-Fi would just stop interfering.

Extricom believes it has the answer to speeding up Wi-Fi, along with readying enterprise WLANs for demanding wireless applications, such as Voice-over-Wi-Fi. The company's "Interference Free Architecture" triples both the available channels and bandwidth of 802.11a, b and g.

"The next big wave in WLAN will be performance and deployment in the enterprise," said Gideon Rottem, Extricom's CEO. "Current technologies all fall short, creating a gap that Extricom is poised to fill."

Extricom believes solving the problem of co-channel interference allows the continued growth of the Wi-Fi market.

"Without a solution that eliminates co-channel interference, there would be a very solid limit to how fast, and how far, this market could expand," according to the company.

Rottem said the announced $5.6 million in funding from Vertex Venture Capital and Magnum Communications Fund "will be used primarily to propel penetration of the company's first round WLAN products in North America and in the Asia Pacific markets."

Described as a switch and AP combining hardware and specialized software algorithms, the products from Extricom—now in Beta testing—will be available in the first quarter of 2005 to "box vendors for the enterprise market," says Atara Lev, spokesperson for the Herzlia, Israel company.

Extricom's penetration of the WLAN switch market will be a two-prong process. Rottem says a finished product will be first available in the first part of 2005 and then Extricom will provide custom chips to original equipment manufacturers. That finished product will be a "central access unit," similar to that produced by switch vendors Aruba, Trapeze and Airespace, according to Rottem.

This "break-away WLAN architecture...eliminates the coverage and capacity limitations of traditional WLAN architectures, and the need for cell-planning and site surveys—the most expensive aspect of owning a WLAN," according to Extricom.

Extricom's system uses per-packet adaptive techniques along with channel reuse to create a "high performance voice and data network where each user's link is optimized anywhere and at any time in the network," according to a prepared statement.

"The outcome is a network that operates at full modem speeds ubiquitously," says the company. "Extricom sharply increases capacity and scalability in the face of a hostile, in-building RF environment."

The new technology is backed by 10 patents "related to the ability to deploy a network that operates unaffected by co-channel interference".

Extricom's products come down on the side of intelligent wireless switches and "ultra-thin" APs. The APs have no radio or processor. While device agnostic, in order to achieve the high data rates and throughput, all Extricom hardware is needed, according to Rottem.

A white-paper from Extricom provides examples of the impact of its technology. 802.11g, rated at 54Mbps on one channel could reach 486Mbps operating on all three available channels. The increasingly popular 802.11a standard could attain 1.296 Gbps, claims Extricom.

A combination of chips and software will enable Extricom's customers to forget about co-channel interference and transmit on all available channels. Unlike the current method of not placing APs using the same channel side-by-side, access point using Extricom's "break-away WLAN architecture" will use the same channel. Rather than dividing APs among the three channels available to 802.11b, Extricom-powered APs would use all three channels at once. Tripling the available channels would also triple the available bandwidth, claims the company.

Gottem believes his company is looking at the "next generation of wireless" and will intersect the public's need for more bandwidth.

"The current approaches by competitors in this market are fatally flawed," believes Gottem. "They will never provide unfettered performance, and the performance will only get worse as demand increases."