Netgear Aims To Surmount Wireless 'Dead Zones'

Targeted at small businesses, the new RangeMax Wireless Router WPN824, Wireless PC Card WPN511, Wireless PCI Adapter WPN311 and Wireless USB 2.0 Adapter WPN111 incorporate Video54's BeamFlex technology, which enables the Netgear wireless antennas to make adjustments that compensate for weak or distorted signals. The resulting performance boost delivers 45 percent more range and up to 20 percent more speed than MIMO (multiple input multiple output) products from Linksys and Belkin, according to NetGear.

The use of BeamFlex stems from a technology partnership between Netgear and Video54, Mountain View, Calif., said Vivek Pathela, senior director of product marketing for consumer products at NetGear, Santa Clara, Calif.

"With BeamFlex from Video54, our system now has the ability to learn the wireless conditions in an environment and see where interference is and what's going on in terms of connections between access points and clients," Pathela said. "And if something occurs during transmission, it will send out signals at a different direction to bounce off walls and make the connection. We outsmart the dead zone."

The RangeMax Wireless Router comes with a four-port 100-Mbps switch and supports data rates of up to 108 Mbps, Pathela said. The router also includes security features such as NAT and SPI firewalls, 128-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access Pre-Shared Key (WPA-PSK), wireless access control, denial-of-service attack protection, intrusion detection and prevention, and MAC address authentication.

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The new NetGear card, adapters and router offer small businesses a way to enjoy higher wireless bandwidth ahead of the expected release of the upcoming 802.11n standard, which is expected to arrive in about a year and a half, said Chris Sullivan, owner of Turn 2 Solutions Networking Technologies, a Los Altos, Calif.-based solution provider.

"With this new stuff, in 108-Mbps mode, you should get bandwidth in the high 40s when about 100 feet out, which is a vast improvement because that means if you're working within 100 feet you shouldn't have to add on access point," Sullivan said. Users should make sure that any wireless router is approved for use by their particular carrier, he added

The new RangeMax Wireless Router starts at $149, and the cards and adapters cost $99 each, according to Netgear.