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Vivato to introduce tuned antenna with remarkable reach: Vivato has apparently developed a clever antenna that could allow a business to distribute wireless network access throughout a building without the current high cost of distributed deployment of access points. (There's still issues about maximum number of users, the amount of bandwidth per access point, and other technical details, of course.) Vivato's project sounds reasonable, and the report comes from the New York Times (John Markoff), but what makes them most credible to me is that Jim Thompson works for them. Jim's a straight shooter, and I wouldn't expect to find him anywhere but on the cutting edge of contemporary technology.
Wired News's Paul Boutin also got the scoop -- I have to ask, why didn't I get the scoop? -- and even managed to quote me in general on the topic of WLAN mobility without disclosing the technology or company in question. Paul's story notes Phil Belanger's involvement. Phil, like Jim, is an ex-Wayport executive. Paul posted additional notes on his Web log that didn't make it into the article.
More coverage of Vivato: EE Times, a more technically detailed, IT-oriented overview; InfoWorld, with some more detail about scope and range of the devices, including from someone who wants to deploy the technology. For more coverage, use this query on Google News.
One potential area of impact not discussed in any article is deployment into airports: airports have tons of RF interference already, and are large, typically metal rangy sets of buildings. If a company could offer wireless in an entire terminal with one or two of Vivato's antennas it reduces an enormous number of costs associated with bringing in various trades (electrical, construction, network) and installing many access points at regular intervals.
One of the folks involved at Vivato told me (and gave me permission to quote him): One of the demos for the launch (today) is that we've illuminated the entire building in SF from inside the building across the street. The other is ...coverage of several hotels from the other unit we have mounted to the roof of the building in SF. For instance, the entirety of the Marriott (over a mile away) is illuminated, as well as several other hotels (one side of the Marriott Courtyard, the Avalon, and the 'W', are all illuminated.
Another related benefit: if you can run all of your access points from more or less the same area, increasing network coverage now becomes an issues of plugging in additional APs with nonoverlapping channels. Because 802.11b has only three nonoverlapping channels, if you used three nonoverlapping APs to handle an entire building, you'd be dividing a net of about 21 Mbps (7 by 3) among all those users. Because Vivato's product is both an access point and an antenna integrated into one package, they may have more control over how they handle this kind of channelization or reuse while still working within Wi-Fi specifications.
The Vivato product puts the company at odds with a variety of enterprise-style systems for deploying and aggregating large WLANs. For instance, Symbol introduced in September its Mobius Axon line, which turns access points into access ports: the port is just a radio with a Power over Ethernet connection that runs back to a central Axon Switch. It's a neat idea for reducing the overall cost of deployment and management itself. Vivato could suck even that advantage way back into a server closet. If Vivato plays out, even in part, the Cisco, Proxim, and Symbols of the world could face a drastic change in their revenue from access point sales.
Suction cup 7 dBi antenna: Mike from Signull Techologies sent me the URL of a spec sheet for their 7 dBi suction cup antenna pictured deployed on automobiles! Wardriving made easy.