RF-using ventures hunt for cash
While the dot.com boom may be over, the traditional dance between start-up companies and investment bankers continues. Both sides need the other, start-ups needing cash to fuel their growth and venture capitalist firms have raised money in the hope of seeing spectacular returns on investment.
The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) hosted a two day event on July 23 and 24 in McLean, Virginia, to bring telcom start-ups and bankers together.
Among those seeking capital at the event were two companies riding the WiFi boom, WiDeFi and Amperion. WiDeFi is a technology development company located in Satellite Beach, Florida, designing chips and writing software to “make great wireless products work better” in the company’s words. WiDeFi’s first reference design is the WiFi Xtender, a zero-configuration repeater with zero jitter that works with any WiFi Access Point to effectively double its range. Xtender WiFi designs have been put together for both indoor and outdoor use and OEMs are expected to sign on to build the device which is expected to cost around $50 retail.
WiDeFi is talking up the consumer/home market with an estimated 40 percent of home WiFi access points needing a repeater for full coverage and another 20 percent needing two repeaters. While the current thrust is on the 802.11a/b/g arena, the Xtender design can also support TDD systems in WCS, MMDS, and other bands with minimal changes. Other versions of the Xtender have been announced for WLAN, Hot Spot, and Peer-to-Peer environments. The company has secured development agreements with Dae Sung New Tech of Korea and SOHOWare and is in talks with other WiFI equipment manufacturers.
At the other end of the scale, Amperion is bolting WiFi onto their broadband powerline deployments to extend the reach and range of its products. Amperion, based in Andover, Mass., is one of several companies that has developed systems to enable the delivery of high-speed broadband data over electric utility lines. First-generation equipment being produced today can deliver around 18 Mbps over power lines while next-generation hardware potentially available by the end of 2003 promises speeds between 75 to 100 Mbps.
According to the company’s Web site, Amperion’s PowerWiFi is its “preferred” solution to deliver bandwidth to the end user. Amperion hardware would be deployed over medium voltage lines that run within 100 meters of every home and business into a neighborhood “Hotspot” while WiFi provides a ubiquitous network solution without the need for specialized hardware.
However, while the FCC has enthusiastically lined up in support of power-line technology, the amateur radio community is diametrically opposed. Responding to the FCC’s Broadband over Power Line (BPL) Notice of Inquiry on May 23, 2003, the ARRL has filed a 120 page response urging the agency to “take no steps” toward allowing the technology, claiming that it will cause widespread interference and preclude future changes in amateur HF allocation.
“BPL is a Pandora’s Box of Unprecedented Proportions,” claims the ARRL, citing previous problems with electric utility RF interference and calling for donations from members to the spectrum defense fund. The 120-page response is available on the ARRL web site at http://www.arrl.org/announce/regulatory/et03-104/.