Radical xG better than WiMax says inventor

An emerging wireless technology is much faster and cheaper than WiMax, its creator claims, but doubts remain. By Peter Judge

The inventor of a radical wireless broadband technology has promised real products by the end of June — but the technology is still so closely guarded it is impossible to say how real it is.

Using a technology known as xG, xMax — a protocol created by research and product development firm xG Technology — promises to deliver better performance than WiMax, but at very low power. The system was demonstrated in November (under xMax’s control) with the transmitter at the top of a wireless mast.

xMax’s latest promise is that equipment will be available to buy — and for third parties to test — by mid-2006. The systems will effectively allow anyone to be a wireless ISP, xG Technology chief executive Rick Mooers says.

His reasoning is that xMax and xG will enable broadcasting to a local area, at wavelengths and power levels where no licence would be required and will be cheap enough for almost anyone to afford.

The latest demonstration sent a full motion video stream a distance of 30m using only 300 nanowatts of transmitted power. “By comparison, typical 802.11 WLAN technology transmits up to 3 million times more power,” says xG’s inventor, Joe Bobier.

The US Federal Communications Commission has had the equipment tested in an authorised laboratory, according to xMax’s latest bulletin. The FCC only tested the equipment complied to radio emissions regulations, not for whether its performance matches xMax’s claims, but the test does at least show that it will be legal to use in the licence exempt 900 MHz band.

In November, xG Technology let journalists get tantalisingly close to a demonstration which apparently sent a 3.67Mbit/s signal over 29km using only 35mW of output power.

Long term, the company almost certainly wants the technology to be bought by a big player, such as Intel but so far, the technology has been kept under wraps. xG Technology says this is to avoid it being copied, but without equipment that other people can test in their own labs, the company’s claims remain open to reasonable doubt.

Bobier claims his technology can modulate radio signals so one bit of data is carried on each cycle (“single cycle modulation”), and that it can carry signals on a wide band of spectrum at low power levels.

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