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Carrier WiFi

Aussies Speed Wireless LAN

Cohda Wireless has demonstrated a high-speed WiFi system in Adelaide, Australia that it says can hand off between access points at speeds of up to 200 mph in challenging outdoor deployments.

Such a breakthrough could make it easier to support services like voice-over-IP, video, and other multimedia transmissions over WLAN links. Handover times between access points are becoming crucial as more users try to run VOIP and more intensive data services over WiFi networks. Such concerns will only increase as more WiFi is deployed outdoors -- either in mesh networks or hotspot networks -- since users are more likely to be mobile than they are in static office deployments.

Orlando, Fla.-based Cohda, a spinoff of the University of South Australia's Institute for Telecommunications Research, says it has sped up handoffs using a "mobile OFDM" receiver and algorithms, which it claims are interoperable with IEEE standards and "essentially impervious to the effects of mobility and multipath outdoors." For operators, these advancements could enable better coverage with fewer nodes. The possible cost reductions that would result from less dense deployments could be important as more municipal and public-private entities get into running WiFi networks.

Cohda is currently running the tests over the 4.9GHz licensed public safety band and 5.8GHz unlicensed band. It says, however, that the more standard 2.4GHz WiFi frequency could also be supported over its hardware.

The basic technology behind the trials -- Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) -- is hot news at the moment. Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has snapped up both Airgo Networks Inc. and Flarion for the their work using the modulation scheme in pioneering ways in the WiFi and metropolitan fields respectively. (See Qualcomm Buys Airgo, RFMD Assets and Qualcomm Calls on Flarion.)

Qualcomm, along with many other companies, reckons that OFDM is already becoming the basis of the next generation of wireless technology. Cohda's technology could provide another interesting layer to OFDM radio capabilities, particularly if the firm can demonstrate similar advances in denser deployments running over the more crowded 2.4GHz band.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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