IPTV over wireless? Why not?

Ruckus' Selina Lo talks home improvement and Wi-Fi futures

The technology that Ruckus is hoping to make into an industry standard can't be done, Lo insists, with "the standard cookie-cutter output from the standard one-chip solution. You have to do some actual R&D - you know, wireless research."

Isn't that what all the wireless companies do?

"No. Nobody does any R&D on Wi-Fi layer. Big companies, aiming at the Fortune 500 market - people like Cisco and Aruba - do research into management and other upper layers of security - not into making the RF layer robust. And that's true for the chip guys, too - from their perspective they want to maximise the market for the same chip. They want to produce something that will work in all situations, from consumer to enterprise."

And of course, Ruckus reckons it has done the research that matters: into the middleware of the wireless layer. "This isn't software middleware. This is wireless middleware."

The jargon, when analysed, boils down to a smart antenna system; a combination of very tightly designed antenna that is configurable by software: "And we provide the software which drives it. Each antenna system has multiple elements - the software configures which elements to turn on - on a per packet basis."

So the MAC layer is designed to ACK every packet sent.

"We found that by monitoring the antenna system, we learned about every wireless destination - when you get a poke from someone, you get a lot of information and we use that information to build up a database. So we have signal paths formed by different antenna elements to different destinations. We can focus on the correct signal, even if there is noise being picked up by the other antennas."

Radio frequency interference, or noise, is a black art. But it's not beyond understanding. Anybody who has carried a portable radio and discovered that if you twist it to one particular angle, it loses the signal, is demonstrating the Ruckus effect. Find out which antenna elements are at the right angle to ignore the RFI, and you can screen out the noise.

You don't meet many CEOs like Selina. She tells me her own expertise, way back, is as a Comp Sci graduate, not wireless - but she got into HP in its glory days (before the engineering half was split off) and found herself actually running things, rather than just tinkering with code and systems.


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