Comms chips

WiDeFi Repeats History

Do we really need another piece of hardware to add to the wireless LAN network?

Unstrung asks only because that's what startup WiDeFi Inc. is working on to "dramatically increase" the range of wireless LAN networks.

The Satellite Beach, Fla.-based startup last week scored $6.8 million in funding for its "new physical layer repeater" chipset technology (see Wireless Bytes). The firm has taken a cue from the cellular industry and is developing a reference design around its chipset that OEM manufacturers can use to develop wireless repeaters -- dedicated boxes that will extend the signal range of wireless LAN or other technologies.

WiDeFi isn't yet talking much beyond generalized FoFums about exactly how it will implement this technology.

"We can receive and transmit simultaneously. This allows us to support the full rates available to [Wireless LAN]," WiDeFi's CEO James Proctor writes in an email reply to questions. "The way to think of it is as the equivalent of a Hub for time division duplexed wireless systems (802.11 802,16, etc.)."

Some analysts have some more ideas. "As far as I can tell, its just a repeater," says Bob Wheeler at the The Linley Group. "The technology increases throughput because it is reducing the range between the radio nodes [access points]."

Currently, some vendors offer access points and wireless LAN bridges that can act as repeater for 802.11 networks (see Proxim Repeats Itself). Of course, these are tied to whatever standards the access point supports, while WiDeFi claims to be "standards agnostic." Otherwise there's always the good ol' Pringles™ can repeater (see WLAN - Snacking & Hacking and WLAN Can Do).

It is not yet clear whether WiDeFi's offerings will be cheaper than the equivalent AP/bridge option [ed. note: although its pretty certain they won't come in lower than a Pringles container]. "I actually think there's a market for such a product as long as you can make it inexpensive," opines Wheeler.

— DanDeFi Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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