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ParkerVision touts Wi-Fi range boost tech

Up to 1.6km

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Radio Frequency (RF) transceiver maker Florida-based ParkerVision claims its Horizons wireless adaptor products significantly improve the range of standard 802.11 networking kit - regardless of which vendor's base-station the client accesses.

The company says it can extend the outdoor range of Wi-Fi communications by to 1.6km - more than five times the range achieved with standard 802.11 devices.

ParkerVision also claims its Direct2Data (D2D) technology eliminates almost all indoor dead zones - spaces where standard Wi-Fi signals can't reach.

Don't expect such a long range without a Horizons access point, however. Like many range-extending technologies, such as Atheros' XR technology, the D2D system works best with its own equipment at either end of the connection. But unlike most proprietaryt extenstions to the 802.11 standard, ParkerVision insists users will see significant range gains in multi-vendor environments. Not that it offers numbers to back this up, mind you.

However, the company claims that adding a Horizons adaptor to a beta tester's PC allowed his off-the-shelf access point to be reached throughout his three-floor site rather than just half of it as was the case with a third-party WLAN adaptor.

D2D is based on direct conversion signal processing. According to ParkerVision, it "directly demodulates the baseband information from the RF carrier with an optimised signal-to-noise ratio. Conversely, when used as a transmitter, the D2D circuit modulates the baseband information directly onto the RF carrier".

Cutting through the technobabble, the technique essentially involves converting the analog radio signal into digital form as early as possible, at a high sample rate, then using DSP technology to manipulate the digital data. Direct conversion systems have been around for some time. To date the technique has largely been applied in cellphone base-stations and digital satellite TV receivers.

Traditional Wi-Fi transceivers perform more work in the analog domain, which is easier to do, but requires more complex - and more costly - RF circuitry and components for signal processing and frequency manipulation. Issues such as local oscillator signals leaking through the antenna and creating noise, and the precise amplitude and phase balance required to make DC work are some of the challenges ParkerVision has presumably solved in the development of DC for Wi-Fi applications.

The first Horizons product, a $99.95 802.11b/g PC Card, the HZ1500, is shipping in the US today. ParkerVision promises an access point product by the middle of Q4.

The Horizons PC Card is currently only available direct from ParkerVision. ®

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