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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Too good to be true?

I've woken up this morning to several news stories, emails & blogs telling me about the "new new thing" in wireless broadband - a proprietary technology being called xMax by its inventors xG Technology . In fact, the technology is supposedly applicable to wired applications as well (although that's true of UWB as well)

It all reminds me a little of other "You what?!" broadband innovations - sending signals through gas pipelines , or via hovering airships. There are always stealth startups popping up, claiming to be about to change the world. Sometimes I guess it comes true.

It certainly sounds clever. And it may well work as claimed for certain usage cases. Whether it's commercial or not is another question. On the other hand, it certainly addresses some of my usual questions asked to mobile broadband evangelists: "will it work in-building?", "will it be low-powered enough" and "will it work internationally?".

But ever the cynic, I'm also looking for any possible stumbling blocks. I have to admit that some of the fine-grain discussion around RF modulation and encoding is beyond me, so many of my questions may have simple and obvious-to-some answers. But.....

- Are there any issues around latency? Does lots of clever signal-processing and error-correction add so much time to a "roundtrip" that it's useless for realtime apps like voice?
- Is there anything about xMax that means it doesn't work well with IP or ethernet protocols?
- Is there anything else new or around-the-corner that could interfere with it? Other types of UWB, for instance?
- Can the receivers be small enough to fit into phones?
- How well does it work with moving devices / users? At what speeds?

... and so on. Clearly, there are 100s of other questions that need answers.

My overall take is that xMax if probably now over the first hurdle - people are taking it seriously enough to at least sit up and notice it. I'll be watching it carefully, for one.

1 comment:

Serge said...

Here are some answers to your questions:

Antenna: One omnidirectional transmitter located on TV broadcast tower at a height of 850 feet;

Range: 20 miles, covering the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, including inside buildings (see map);

Data rate: At least 10 Mb/s throughout the coverage area;

Spectrum used: A 6 kHz carrier on dedicated spectrum and 10 MHz of information-bearing spread spectrum in the unlicensed 900 MHz band;

Interference: None, despite the presence of a TV transmitter on the same tower;

Power: A maximum of 50 W for the carrier and less than 0.15 W for the information-bearing channels.

from: http://www.xgtechnology.com/newsitem.asp?id=21