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Wi-Fi start-up extends reach of networks

Airgo Networks says its new multiple antenna technology will increase the range and performance of Wi-Fi networks.

Airgo Networks announced on Monday that its multiple antenna wireless networking technology and its first chip, which will use the technology, are being tested by potential customers.

The company's technology, according to Airgo, extends the range and increases the output of wireless networks. This could mean simpler and less-expensive installations of networks, as well their improved performance.

Volume production of the chip--the AGN100--is expected to increase in the coming months, with notebooks using the chips, said Greg Raleigh, chief executive of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up.

Airgo is already in discussions with original equipment manufacturers looking to use the start-up's chips, including major notebook makers, and with quality of service protocols and the improved range and performance of networks using the chips, the company is "in the middle of the multimedia home vortex" that consumer electronics and PC companies have been touting for the last couple years, according to Raleigh.

Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Sony have been basing their consumer plans on the idea that wireless networks will be installed in homes, allowing individuals to share resources, such as broadband connections and printers, as well as content on devices connected to the network.

Airgo has raised $52 million in funding from firms such as OVP Venture Funds, Sevin Rosen Funds, Nokia Venture Partners and Accel.

Typically, multiple wireless signals in a network can can be problematic because they can interfere with one another. The future of wireless technology is multiple input and multiple output (MIMO) technology, which takes advantage of multiple signals, said Craig Mathias, an analyst with research firm Farpoint Group.

"The only other way to get more information into a signal is to cram more bits into the signal, but the more bits you cram, the less range you get," Mathias said. "What's being done is that multiple signals are being sent out and received and a more reliable signal is being created in the end."

Airgo's new chip supports the 802.11a, b and g standards and can achieve transfer rates of up to 108mbps. The chip also supports draft versions of the 802.11i and 802.11e specifications.