Netgear Claims MIMO 'First' With New Equipment - InformationWeek

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Netgear Claims MIMO 'First' With New Equipment

Vendor says that it is using software-based MIMO technology that makes its WLAN gear potentially faster and more compatible than its competitors.

Netgear Monday became the latest vendor of WLAN equipment for homes and small offices using Multiple Input-Multiple Output (MIMO) capabilities to increase speed and range. However, Netgear claimed it worked overtime to differentiate its RangeMax equipment from its MIMO competitors.

Specifically, Netgear is the first major vendor to release MIMO equipment based on technology from Video54. Linksys (review), Belkin (review) and SOHOware are among the vendors that released equipment based on MIMO technology from Airgo. Netgear claims that its equipment provides as much as ten times the coverage and speed of standard 802.11g equipment.

MIMO will be part of the 802.11n standard, which is expected to be ratified in 2006 or 2007, so no vendor can offer truly standardized MIMO technology. In an interview last week, Video54 CEO Selina Lo claimed that her company's MIMO technology will prove more compatible because it works on top of existing 802.11g chipsets. .

"Our solution doesn't require use of a new chipset, meaning that the signal processing is done in software," Ms. Lo said.

David Henry, a Netgear product manager, said this technology uses seven internal antennas that can turn on and off independently, providing 128 separate routing patterns, with the software selecting the most effective pattern on the fly. That diversity of routing options, Henry claimed, gives the Netgear equipment better performance than its competitors.

"In real time, it goes through each combination (of antennas) and figures out which one gives any given client the best wireless throughput," Henry said. An added benefit of this approach is that it significantly increases the coverage area when non-Netgear adapters are used in conjunction with the Netgear MIMO router, according to Henry.

The comments reflect strong differences among MIMO technology vendors about the merits of their products. Airgo, for instance, calls its technology "TrueMIMO," claiming it is closest to the MIMO as envisioned by the research community.

However, no vendors are claiming that their equipment will be forward compatible with 802.11n as it is eventually ratified, although all claim it will be backward compatible with existing 802.11g equipment.

Netgear previously introduced MIMO equipment based on Airgo's technology in Japan. In the U.S., its MIMO router based on the Video54 technology, costs $149. It also has a PC Card, PCI and USB adapters available for $99.

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