Carrier WiFi

Bountiful's WiFi Harvest

Gloriously named startup Bountiful WiFi has announced a new access point that it claims will offer two to four times the coverage of current 802.11 products.

Bountiful is hot on the heels of the latest trend in enterprise wireless LAN land, using standard components -- tweaked to taste -- to offer lucky, lucky working stiffs more range, capacity, or speed, from their WiFi networks.

Meru Networks Inc., Xirrus Inc., and others have recently introduced über-WiFi boxes that purport to kick sand in the face of regulation 802.11 infrastructure. (See Multi-Channel Magic? for a quick overview of some of the new developments in WLAN.) So how does the Bountiful box work?

Well, Bountiful's president and CEO, David Egbert, says the initial idea came from a standalone WiFi signal booster that his former company, Corco LLC, developed for Linksys, to increase the range of that firm's home wireless routers. apparently dropped the product after it bought Linksys in 2003 (see Cisco Buying Linksys for $500M).

Now, the startup has taken the booster idea and run with it, using an Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) 802.11g chipset as the basis of a router that will "put out as much power as the FCC will allow," according to Egbert.

That's a radio setup with nearly 30 dBm gain, microwave fans! This means that, in practice, the Bountiful router should have a range of around 1,000 feet, compared to the 300 feet that normal 802.11g access points offer. Egbert claims that the AP will put out enough juice to cover a two-floor office.

The firm also claims that due to the product's sensitive recievers (or, as they say, "big ears") and linear radio amplifier it will function well in environments that are not typically friendly to radio networks.

Of course, we have seen some grandiose claims for standalone wireless products that can cover the entire office in one fell swoop, most notably from Vivato Inc., which has ended up marketing its products to municipal buyers instead. But Bountiful has certainly caught the second wave of enthusiasm for wireless LAN "God boxes." Beyond Meru and Xirrus, a couple of stealth startups out there have similar products that haven't yet been announced.

Serial entrepreneur Egbert says Bountiful is privately funded and not looking for VC money, at least for the time being.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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