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Airgo Hits Million Mark

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LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
12/23/2004

802.11 silicon startup Airgo Networks Inc. claims that it has shipped over a million of its souped up wireless LAN chipsets in just seven weeks.

AirGo's CEO Greg Raleigh claims that the sales show that there is a demand among consumers for high-performance wireless LAN networks, since SOHO gear vendor Belkin Corp. shipped the vast majority of the million chips (see Airgo Goes Faster With Belkin).

As far as Raleigh is concerned, the sales since October help to validate AirGo's gamble on multiple input multiple output (MIMO) wireless LAN technology. "This is certainly faster than [802.11b] ever shipped in the first few months," he says.

MIMO technology increases the data throughput offered via 802.11 up to 108 Mbit/s, if both sides of the wireless connection are using the Airgo chipset. The three antennas in the Airgo chipset improve the wireless throughput by each taking a "snapshot" of the data. The combination of the snaphots provides more detailed picture of the data being sent (see Airgoooooooooooo! ).

Raleigh's game plan is to try and get AirGo a significant "first mover" advantage before MIMO technology becomes standardized as part of the 802.11n standard, something which Raleigh expects to happen towards the end of 2006 (see 802.11n Slapfest Ahead).

"I think what we can say for sure is that MIMO is going to be a significant percentage in the first half of 2005," claims Raleigh.

Not that AirGo will have the field all to its self. Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) told Unstrung recently that it will unveil its plans for using similar technology soon and others will likely follow AirGo's lead.

It will be interesting to see what kind of creative branding ideas such firms come up with for this new generation of faster chips, since the Wi-Fi Alliance has said that it will not certify pre-standard chips based on the 802.11n specification and revoke the certification of any chips shown to cause interference problems with other stansard Wi-Fi components.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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