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Vivato Switches Sides

Startup unveils compact and bijou WLAN box -- just don't call it a switch

May 13, 2004

2 Min Read
Vivato Switches Sides

LAS VEGAS -- NetWorld + Interop -- When is a wireless LAN switch not a switch?

When its Vivato Inc.'s new VP2200 WiFi product, of course.

Vivato's CTO Siavash Alamouti tells Unstrung that the startup is done with "all that switch bullshit."

"We got confused with people like Aruba and Trapeze but we don't do what they do at all," Alamouti says. "This is not a switch." What it is... is a base station (see Vivato Touts WiFi Base Station).

With a new management team in place, the company is now targeting "large-scale [wireless LAN] networks" -- both indoors and out -- in warehouses, universities, air and sea ports, and conference centers (see Vivato's New Broom).

The new VP2200 box, which is intended for indoor applications, supports the 802.11g standard [54 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz]. Alamouti says that the box, which is the size and shape of a medium-sized flat panel TV, contains six radios and a phased array antenna set-up.

"It's looking in six directions at the same time."

Software handles the radio "beamforming" (combining the little signals from multiple antennas into one big signal, which can then be directed at the client devices) that helps Vivato achieve its range hikes over standard 802.11 APs.

Increased antenna sensitivity has also boosted performance, according to Alamouti [Ed note: we hear it's also ribbed for extra pleasure].

The VP2200 is supposed to have four or five times the range of a standard access point. In an "indoor mixed office" Vivato is claiming a maximum range of 115 feet (35 meters) at the maximum data rate of 54 Mbit/s, and 673 feet [205 meters] at low rates of 6 Mbit/s. In a "warehouse environment," those range figures are almost doubled.

The VP2200 is 26" by 26" and 3" wide, significantly smaller than Vivato's original 802.11b (11 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) product, which looks like a cross between a solar panel and a king-sized futon.

"Now it can be carried by one person on their own," says Alamouti.So far, so good. But, after significant changes to its management team and a couple of staff layoffs, can Vivato reinvent itself and push the concept of large-scale deployments? The firm has just signed a deal with cellular infrastructure component manufacturer Andrew Corp. (Nasdaq: ANDW), which may help to give more credibility to its base station nomenclature (see Andrew, Vivato Link Up).

But a lot will depend on whether customers are ready to roll out larger networks. Especially when many IT departments seem to still be getting their heads around the idea of rolling out managed WiFi in traditional offices.

At the show, Vivato is heavily promoting its network covering 100 blocks of downtown Spokane, Washington (see Vivato Switches in Spokane). And public deployments may prove to be an important way for the company to show potential corporate customers that these networks can really work.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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