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« FCC Approves Vivato Antenna | Main | MicroVentures Conference Report »

December 16, 2002

Vivato Gets FCC Approval

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FCC approves Vivato's antenna/switch system: Vivato received a splash of attention a few weeks ago with the demonstration of their phased-array antenna with what they call a Wi-Fi switch. The combination creates what they describe as individual focused beams of Wi-Fi access that follow devices as they roam. Their technique apparently offers a cost-effective way to light up entire buildings and offer long-haul wireless service.

The one holdup was receiving FCC approval because no devices quite like theirs have been approved for Part 15 unlicensed use. This clears that hurdle, and Vivato has said before that they hoped to have devices in production in the first quarter of 2003.

Vivato could have a disruptive and positive influence on the hot spot market, reducing the cost of setting up larger facilities, like airports or hotels, from millions to tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, by reducing the overhead in managing a corporate wireless LAN through fewer devices with better coverage, they could hasten the expansion of WLAN deployment.

Military Defensive about Unlicensed Wireless

John Markoff writes about military efforts to restrict unlicensed wireless use: The US military operates radar in the 5 GHz range, the same used by 802.11a, that they're leery of talking much about. The 5 GHz range was considered mostly open space, and colleagues at the 802.11 Planet conference pointed out to me on a few occasions that the middle part of 5 GHz, currently not available for 802.11a, is used for overseas radar by the US, not domestic.

Markoff confirmed for me that the band in question was 5 GHz, even though the article doesn't mention 5 GHz until the middle when he notes that the military is trying to prevent opening the middle of 5 GHz for unlicensed use.

The bill proposed by Boxer et al in the Senate a few days ago requires the FCC to find over 250 MHz below 6 GHZ, and the only likely spot is in the middle of 5 GHz. The military's concern about 5 GHz doesn't scotch 802.11a, but it does raise questions about its future at a time when it seemed assured.

The new 802.11g draft hardware that's about to ship may get closer scrutiny and be seen as more desirable in the short-term until a definitive statement is made on 5 GHz's destiny.

Other News

Excerpts from The Wireless Networking Starter Kit and a direct discount and free shipping from the publisher: We've posted a 60-page excerpt from the book I co-authored on home and small network use of wireless networking. The book is shipping now from several booksellers, and you can also buy directly from the publisher at 30 percent off retail with free UPS ground shipping in the US through this special link. Enter coupon code PE-Y2AK-TIDF at checkout to receive the discount.

Intel delays Wi-Fi integration with Banias: Intel won't have a module containing a dual-band radio chipset for 802.11a and 802.11b when they ship their notebook Banias product in the first half of 2003. The module is now planned for later in the year. There is joy in the chipmaking community today, I'm sure, as companies that sell network adapters directly or via OEMs extend their ability to differentiate their products from an integrated Intel system. [via Alan Reiter]

Warchalking big idea in New York Times review of the year: The New York Times Magazine identified warchalking as one of the big new ideas in 2002, accurately describing its origins, usage, and trends that led to it. [via Oblomovka/Danny O'Brien]

Lisa Phifer explains 802.11 standards (archived Webcast): Josh Garland of SearchNetworking has made available a recent archived Webcast of security and standards expert Lisa Phifer explaining 802.11. I saw Lisa deliver several presentations at 802.11 Planet, and she's has one of clearest methods of explaining complicated technology without missing the details or oversimplifying.

Peter Lewis weighs in on Wi-Fi hot spots: Pete's an industry veteran (and a mentor), and his rational take on Wi-Fi, free of hype and speculation, is pretty dead on. The future of hot spots isn't assured, but cell operators won't contrariwise just be able to charge a metered rate for slow service, either.

Tacoma Convention Center gets unwired: Nigel Ballard of ElevenWireless, one of the usual suspects in the hot spot world, has completed an installation that spans the entire Tacoma Convention Center south of Seattle and the adjacent Sheraton Hotel. Nigel believes this is the largest area served by commercial hot spot service outside of the Seatac area (and possibly inclusive of it).

New Web-based Wi-Fi discussion forum: In conjunction with the launch of my book on wireless networking (see upper left of this page), my co-author and I have launched a discussion forum for Wi-Fi issues, as well as issues from the book. I've been longing to set up a simple threaded forum for quite a while, and finally found the right package and approach. Join us!