A new Wi-Fi infrastructure company called
has announced the first “Wi-Fi switch,” which it said increases the capacity and reach of wireless networks.
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Wi-Fi, the same wireless networking technology as what’s used in Apple’s AirPort products, operates at about the same speed as a conventional 10baseT Ethernet network, but does so at a limited range from a broadcast point, known to AirPort users as a base station. Up until now, it’s only been possible to extend the signal more than a couple of hundred feet by wiring up multiple base stations together, a significant infrastructure cost for companies with large facilities. Vivato claims its switch technology moves Wi-Fi’s range “from meters to kilometers.”
Vivato’s switches incorporate planar phased array antennas built into a flat panel, directing multiple narrow beams of Wi-Fi transmissions simultaneously, a technology that Vivato calls “PacketSteering.” The switches offer integrated management and security, with support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), detection of rogue access points, and encryption and authentication. Vivato’s switches will support the IEEE 802.11b standard — the same technology used by AirPort — along with 802.11a and 802.11g, two faster wireless networking standards.
Vivato promises the switches will support Wi-Fi certified clients (like AirPort products) without the need for any additional software. Its switches will also support standard enterprise router functions like PPPoE, PPTP, IPsec and other protocols. Vivato plans to produce both indoor and outdoor models of it switches, too.
Vivato sees the market for its switches in large enterprise and campus environments — universities and hospitals, for example, where a single switch can cover an entire floor, or, if used outside, an entire building or campus location. Vivato also perceives a market for so-called “last-mile” broadband delivery in suburbs or metropolitan areas, where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may opt to deploy widescale Wi-Fi service in place of physically wiring individual locations.
Vivato, initially founded in December 2000 as Mabuhay Networks, sports an senior staff that includes former executives of Mitre Corp, Xircom, Agilent, Hewlett-Packard and more. Vivato anticipates delivering its new Wi-Fi switch products in the first quarter of 2003. Pricing and specific product details were not announced.