Software extends WiFi range five times

The bumble bee is nature's mystery: Physicists say that it should not be able to fly, because its wing span is too small relative to the bee's body size and weight. Yet, it does fly. The same with some WiFi range-extending technologies: Engineers say that these technologies violate the laws of physics, and yet...

Just look at the proprietary software being offered by start-up InspiAir. The company claims its solution extends the typical WLAN range five times--using the same equipment. Specifically, InspiAir says it can make point-to-multipoint 802.11b WiFi signals travel anywhere up to five km (!), and does so using conventional 100mW transmitters. Peter Judge says that he understands this is owed to a software-only change to 802.11b frames, which improves signal quality while keeping the signal comprehensible by unmodified clients. The company calls the solution Virtual Transmission Manager (VTM).

Antti Tapio of OCP, a company using the solution in installing a commercial metro-WiFi network in Helsinki, says: "The professors in Helsinki University said this is against the laws of physics...Now the system is working, they support me." The network Tapio has installed covers several square miles with only fifteen nodes. He also says that the network has delivered point-to-multipoint Web and e-mail services, to a normal laptop, over distances up to 7.4km.

The experience in the U.S. is similar: Rick Kaminer of Multi-Media Communications, an organization deploying a public WiFi network for New York's Hudson River Park, offers testimony similar to Tapio's, if more poetically: "It's like lighting a match and seeing it a mile away."

The company would not offer any details of the yet-to-be-patented technology. 

For more on InspiAir's software:
- see Peter Judge's Techworld report
- and White Papers at the company's Web site

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