FCC Approves Vivato's First Product Offering

By Ted Stevenson

December 24, 2002

Smart-antenna-based Wi-Fi Switch, first unveiled last month when developer Vivato emerged from stealth mode, gets thumbs-up from Washington regulators.

Vivato, Inc. last week announced that it won Federal Communications Commission (FCC) equipment authorization for its first Wi-Fi Switch, the DP2310. The product, which will debut in the first quarter of 2003 as Vivato's initial offering, is the first to operate under FCC Part 15 rules that uses the innovative planar phased array antenna in conjunction with 802.11b WLAN technology.

"FCC approval is a big step for us," said Phil Belanger, Vivato's VP of Marketing in a recent interview with ISP-Planet. "We're the first company to get approval for a smart antenna in the unlicensed spectrum."

"It was a long project; we had to jointly define the test criteria [with the FCC]. Then the certification lab did the testing," Belanger added, also pointing out that approval applies only to the 2.4GHz spectrum. Testing for products operating in the 5GHz band will follow next year.

The principal innovation of Vivato's patent-pending antenna technology (which it's dubbed PacketSteering) is the use of multiple antenna "cells" to create narrow, formed beams to send and receive multiple transmissions simultaneously. According to the company, this results in greatly extended range ("from meters to kilometers")and reduced co-channel interference.

From the ISP perspective, the company's claim of a 2-kilometer minimum effective range for the product is only one potential selling point. Perhaps equally important is that, for a typical deployment, no customer premise equipment is needed, just a standard 802.11 client (network adaptor), so equipment cost is minimized and installation cost eliminated from the profit equation.

Add to this bandwidth augmentation via multiple transmission beams (analogous to a wired network switch that makes full network bandwidth available to each node, versus a hub, which divides the bandwidth equally among nodes), and centralized back-end network, security, and access management, and you get an equipment option that ISPs should be very interested in exploring.

Asked whether any ISPs were involved in trials with the Wi-Fi Switch, Belanger answered, "Not yet. There were very few beta units available for testing; we had to essentially use a lottery to select testers." The first round of beta tests, he went on to say, will include a hospital, a university, and retail hotspot locations. Vivato hopes to mount a trial with an ISP in the second wave.

"The increased efficiency and lower equipment cost should let ISPs roll out service offerings on a broader scale," Belanger commented. "The platform has the potential to take wireless residential and business service to the next level," he said.

Again, product is expected to become available late in the first quarter of 2003. Belanger estimates that the cost for an ISP deployment would run around $50,000 to achieve 100Mbps of throughput over a 360-degree area under four square miles.

Reprinted from ISP Planet.



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