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Carrier WiFi

Ruckus: Causin' a Commotion?

High-speed WLAN startup Ruckus Wireless Inc. has got a deal with Hong Kong carrier PCCW Ltd. as it bids to position its technology -- including a new own-brand access point -- as an enabler for triple-play services.

The startup, which officially unveils its name change from Video54 to Ruckus today, has developed a "smart antenna" system that bolts onto a standard 802.11 chipset but delivers higher data rates and more consistent throughput by dispersing transmissions between different antennas (see Ruckus: Causin' a Commotion?). The theory goes that such a multipath signal allows more consistent data transfers because the system chooses the best path for each transmission.

Such multiple antenna systems -- often referred to as multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) -- have been pioneered in the WiFi world by chipset startup Airgo Networks Inc., which argues that it currently offers the only "true MIMO" chipsets (see Airgo Speeds WLAN).

Ruckus claims the main benefit of using a bolt-on antenna system is that the technology can be used with existing chipsets and upgraded as new standards arrive.

PCCW will be using Ruckus's new wireless access point to connect subscribers to voice, video, and data services in the home. Selina Lo, CEO of Ruckus, says that multiple antenna systems are key to providing the horsepower and regular throughput needed for streaming video and data.

"Before users just didn't have the consistency," she says.

Ruckus seems like a little bit of a left turn for Lo, who built her reputation at enterprise startups like Alteon WebSystems, which was acquired by Nortel Networks Ltd.. She's been linked with other WLAN startups over the last couple of years, but says Ruckus caught her interest after she looked into ways of installing and networking TV in her home and found that none of the WLAN systems available at the time were up to snuff (see S.Lo No Go as Aruba CEO).

"Plus, I wanted to build something I could actually use myself for a change," Lo explains. "Not many people have gigabit switches in their home, you know?"

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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