Airgo Looks To Solution Providers For Increased Wi-Fi Performance Proposition

Airgo's AGN100 is an integrated chipset that includes a Baseband/MAC chip and a radio frequency (RF) chip that incorporate smart antenna technology dubbed MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output). The technology allows for the simultaneous processing of radio signals on multiple antennas, which increases coverage, range and speed.

The chipset will be used as the basis of WLAN products that support 802.11a/g/b, operate in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and incorporate IEEE 802.11 security and quality-of-service features. Airgo's plans include working with wireless networking vendors such as an SMC Networks or Buffalo Technology to brand and sell WLAN products based on Airgo's technology, Airgo executives said.

Greg Raleigh, founder and CEO of Airgo, said the bottom-line pitch for solution providers is a higher-performance WLAN technology that enables new applications, reduces infrastructure costs and is compatible with existing Wi-Fi products.

Raleigh said, for example, that an Airgo access point would be priced marginally more than the current 802.11a/b/g models, which typically range in price from about $500 for SMB models to about $1,000 for enterprise models. The number of access points required as part of a WLAN solution based on Airgo's technology, however, decreases significantly along with the total cost of ownership, he said.

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Some solution providers, such as Jack Davis, CEO of Sideband Systems, Beverly, Mass., are reacting with caution, noting that vendors making similar claims have failed to deliver. "The major criterion for us as an integrator is whether the technology has long-term credibility and viability," Davis said.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Airgo is planning to develop a training program to work with select solution providers as products come to market, Raleigh said.

There's no denying the WLAN market is hot. The Dell'Oro Group predicts revenue will grow to $3.1 billion in 2007 from $1.5 billion in 2002.

Craig Mathias, principal at wireless research firm Farpoint Group, describes Airgo's chipset as very significant. "This is a major development," he said. "It is in turbo mode and not part of the 802.11 standard, but it does represent what I think is the only viable technical direction for getting higher performance at this point."

Initial products based on Airgo's technology will include Cardbus, MiniPCI, PCI and access point configurations. Volume production is expected before the end of the year, Airgo said.