Intel Gives WiFi A Big Boost

from the just-a-little-further dept

Some researchers at Intel say they've devised a way to send WiFi signals up to 100 kilometers (via Broadband Reports) using standard equipment, compared to the few hundred feet they can normally travel. Their system uses directional antennas and special software to do the trick, and it's intended to be used in developing nations to provide remote areas with internet access. Typically, WiFi signals are sent over a circular area, with the router in the middle. It's possible to focus the signal, using a directional antenna, in a particular direction, and use power just to send the signal that way, instead of all around. That's not really any secret or breakthrough, but it sounds like the Intel researchers' real innovation is in creating a system that electrically steers the antennas on both ends of the connection, automating what can be a particularly difficult task. While it's being suggested that this technology could replace WiMAX -- hence Intel's apparent lack of interest in rolling it out in the developed world -- this directional requirement makes this souped-up WiFi unsuitable for much more than backhauling other types of connections, particularly since it wouldn't be able to support multiple simultaneous connections. For instance, it could be used to send a net connection to a remote village, where standard WiFi gear could be used to share the connection locally. The advance here isn't in creating a potential competitor to WiMAX or other mobile broadband technologies; the innovation is in creating a solution to the problem of aligning directional antennas, which could potentially be applied to other wireless technologies beyond WiFi.

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  • identicon
    alaric, 29 Mar 2007 @ 2:30pm

    20 years late but hey its intel

    People have been extending the range of 2.4 GHz radios employing software, directional antennas and LINE OF SIGHT mounted on a TALL TOWER for a good 20 years.

    How is this news? Oh wait, i see it not, its just getting carried because the PC Media will carry anything intel prints without questioning anything.

    The real problem for Wifi is distance in a crowded area, when line of sight is not available, with lots of buldings to absorb waves and sources of interference. No progress there as far as i see it.

    Someone please save wireless from intel's PR machine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 29 Mar 2007 @ 3:04pm

      Re: 20 years late but hey its intel

      Are you stupid, or do you just act that way? Did you NOT read the multiple times that he stated "the innovation is in creating a solution to the problem of aligning directional antennas, which could potentially be applied to other wireless technologies beyond WiFi."? Moron. No shit that it's been done... the alignment has been manual up until now, though, rather than tools to help automate it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Alaric, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:00pm

        Re: Re: 20 years late but hey its intel

        "Are you stupid, or do you just act that way?"

        First off, this is way out of line. Secondly, read the rest of comment. The problem for WiFi and wireless in general is in non-line of sight environments. This is not a cure a for that. The real killer for wifi is the ability to compensate for the limitations of the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz spectrum both of which are easily obsorbed. Pointing and steering no work too well in an environment with lots of reflections, which is typical to cellular, and wifi.

        So maybe i'm not the stupid one here. Point to point, line of sight iis a wonderful market but not one that is really going to do much for wifi or wireless in general. Pointing and steering is not new. There have been many, MANY, MANY solutions that do that at the base station and even on the handset.

        And its a non-innovation. Seriouly, is this the best intel can do? Something that was done decades ago but with newer software. Its not a innovation. Its old hat but its getting carried because its intel.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 7:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: 20 years late but hey its intel

          So it doesn't do anything for you, I bet men weren't cheering the streets for the brazier when it came out or the tampon, that doesn't mean they didn't have major value.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Alaric, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:00pm

        Re: Re: 20 years late but hey its intel

        "Are you stupid, or do you just act that way?"

        First off, this is way out of line. Secondly, read the rest of comment. The problem for WiFi and wireless in general is in non-line of sight environments. This is not a cure a for that. The real killer for wifi is the ability to compensate for the limitations of the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz spectrum both of which are easily obsorbed. Pointing and steering no work too well in an environment with lots of reflections, which is typical to cellular, and wifi.

        So maybe i'm not the stupid one here. Point to point, line of sight iis a wonderful market but not one that is really going to do much for wifi or wireless in general. Pointing and steering is not new. There have been many, MANY, MANY solutions that do that at the base station and even on the handset.

        And its a non-innovation. Seriouly, is this the best intel can do? Something that was done decades ago but with newer software. Its not a innovation. Its old hat but its getting carried because its intel.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 29 Mar 2007 @ 2:34pm

    Sounds like phased-array antenna, possible if

    if you can sample the array of antennas fast enough (or transmit with just the right phase offset).

    Phased-Array antenna is decade old technology that is getting renewed interest now that very high speed computer control is available. You have to control the output phase to each antenna just slightly enough to have a very controllable powerful directional transmitter.

    Receive works just the opposite, sample the array of antenna in just the right phase and you can control the input direction.

    This is good because it uses no moving parts (above the size of an atom) and you can electronically control the direction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 3:10pm

    Interesting development. At first glance Intel appears to have reinvented microwave transmission. Do we know the throughput and how much spectrum is required for this 'directional wifi'? I assume it will use unlicensed spectrum which may not pose a problem if this technology is backhauling in remote areas, but in urban areas, even in developing countries, spectrum licenses matter. And what about cost? The technology sounds cool - I like directional antennas - but I am sceptical of the application. Microwave and now WIMAX are cost-effective, proven backhaul transmission technologies. I don't see the 'problem' that Intel is trying to fix with this new technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adam, 29 Mar 2007 @ 3:34pm

    couldn't have been that hard

    come on, i've been mind-toying with an algorithm for aligning antennae (or solar collectors) for quite some time.

    1. measure current signal
    2. measure signal at -1E direction
    3. measure signal at -1W direction
    4. measure signal at -1N(or up) direction
    5. Measure signal at -1S(or down) direction
    6. move in direction of greatest signal.
    7. repeat until

    add more directions (nw, sw) for more accurate directional movement...

    *claps*

    that seems like an undergrad algorithms class assignment.. not an "intel, king of chipdom" "breakthrough".

    i'd say it's not news, but maybe the real story is it took this long for them to do it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 7:17pm

      Re: couldn't have been that hard

      And yet it hasn't been done, even by your toying....funny that huh. I know someone who has been toying with Free-Energy and Perpetual motion machines, doesn't mean it is simple does it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Adam, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:16pm

    the real story

    so...

    i guess the real REAL story, is how good intel's PR firm is.

    (is this still techdirt fodder?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jarkko, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:39pm

    Cisco has a wireless antenna that will beam 8-miles line of sight. They also have hubs that go along with the system that can boost and turn the signal up to 20 miles. So in theory you could walk right around a signal block with the hubs located in specific areas. I saw an example of it where they beamed it from one side of a city to another, walking around the buildings where applicable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 30 Mar 2007 @ 2:09am

    I can link 2.4ghz 8 miles with just a pair of 300mw cards and some 10 year old parabolic antennas. Imagine how far you could get it to go by actually _trying_.


    This shitty writeup makes it sound like shooting wifi anything past 300 feet is a miracle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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