AirReferee Calls the Shots

By Eric Griffith

July 11, 2005

Startup Rotani says its new technology works as well as Pre-11n—and may prove to be even better, by countering interference.

A new technology may be coming to access points that involves multiple antennas—but the creators are (thankfully) not calling it MIMO.

Rotani of Scottsdale, Ariz., claims its trademarked and patented AirReferee technology will allow performance like that of the pre-802.11n/MIMO products that are currently on the market—especially for video—and will do great in environments with high interference.

"We're not extending range," says the company's president and CTO, Roc Lastinger. "If you want high bandwidth to work at home or the office, you compensate for the adjacent noise." That's a growing problem, as the number of Wi-Fi products sold continues to grow unabated. Think apartment buildings or multi-tenant office complexes where multiple WLANs exist, overlapping with each other.

AirReferee includes dual antennas working with multiple radios. The antennas are standard, low-cost units—not phased arrays like, say, Vivato or Video54 are using. "The reference design we have now has two antennas," says Lastinger. "With antenna coupling, two 11g radios together won't work—it's only one b/g and one 11a. But today, we can do two 11g radios in one system without interference." All of this is handled in the AirReferee software.

The technology will work with Wi-Fi chips from big names like Broadcom or Atheros. Lastinger says OEM vendors—the target audience for Rotani, as they don't make the products themselves—can use any Wi-Fi chip they want. By staying away from the transport layer, the AirReferee technology allows products using it to be backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g and with current and future 11n/MIMO products.

Lastinger says OEMs with commercial designs could have AirReferee products available by October if the FCC and Wi-Fi Alliance certifications come through in time. The first targeted partners will be providers looking to offer wireless "triple play" (video, voice, data) in the home. In fact, he says, a version of AirReferee exists to handle multi-cast applications like video from a PC media center in a home.



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