Wi-LAN boosts wireless to 30Mbps

Wi-LAN Inc. last month raised the bar for unlicensed wireless bandwidth when it released the 30Mbps I.Will access point.

Although I.Will is available in limited quantities now, Wi-LAN is targeting the existing US$15,000 product primarily at firms in the wireless local loop business. By early next year, the company will release a cheaper version designed for customer premises, said Steven Knudsen, Wi-LAN’s vice-president of engineering.

Knudsen noted some enterprises have expressed interest in the existing access point for point-to-point communications. For example, one firm saw the access points as ideal for streaming video.

Most existing wireless LANs operate at 2Mbps with newer products reaching speeds of 10Mbps and 11Mbps. These networks operate using Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum radios, Frequency Hopping radios or infrared light to communicate between base stations and clients.

I.Will, like Wi-LAN’s lower-speed products, uses Wide-band Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (W-OFDM), a spread spectrum technology. According to Wi-LAN president and CEO Dr. Hatim Zaghloul, the product meets most of the requirements of the IEEE’s 802.11a draft standard for high-speed wireless LANs. When 802.11a is ratified, Wi-LAN will make the I.Will access point standard-compliant.

Zaghloul said most of the initial interest in I.Will has come from phone companies and school boards.

One telco that is giving the technology a serious look is Tele2 (UK) Ltd. of Reading, England. Tele2 operates a wireless network that gives users high-speed data access.

Tele2’s existing network runs at 2Mbps on a mixture of Wi-LAN and BreezeCom equipment.

Tele2 chairman Peter Scrope said he believes I.Will is a product with solid potential.

“It’s certainly interesting to us,” he said. “It’s an increase in capacity, which means it reduces the cost of the services to the customer.”

By next year, Zaghloul expects the I.Will access point to be serving not only as a wireless telco local loop option, but also as a bridge between palmtop devices and corporate servers.

Wi-LAN Inc. in Calgary can be reached at (403) 273-9133 or at www.wi-lan.com.