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Comms chips

Airgo Plots Possible IPO

Wireless LAN chip startup Airgo Networks Inc. may try for an initial public offering next year, according to CEO Greg Raleigh.

The company has seen big name SOHO vendors such as Belkin Corp. and Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) adopt its multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) 802.11 chipset design since it first announced the technology (see Airgoooooooooooo! ).

Last December, Raleigh said the firm had shipped over a million of its chipsets in just seven weeks (see Airgo Hits Million Mark). Now, he says -- if the momentum continues -- the firm could go public next year.

"If we continue tracking these numbers? Yeah, certainly," Raleigh says, describing his firm's first-quarter sales as "well above expectations."

"But you want to start talking about this stuff about four months before you actually do it," Raleigh notes. "We're not in that timeframe yet."

MIMO, in case you missed the memo, uses multiple antennas on the client device and backend to increase the speed and capacity of a wireless network. The technology forms the basis of the forthcoming 802.11n standard (see IEEE Plots Speedier WLAN).

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 and increases data transfer speeds to 108 Mbit/s.

Raleigh has always maintained that his firm's strategy is to grab a significant "first mover advantage" over the competition before standardized 802.11n products hit the market. At this rate, Airgo has plenty of time left to achieve that aim. The standard isn't expected to be ratified until the end of 2006 and recently seems to have reached a bit of an impasse (see IEEE Picks High-Speed Survivor).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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