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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

xMax.... there's something there, but I can't be sure exactly what....

Met up with xG Technology the other day - those guys with the seemingly-unbelievable wireless broadband technology that they reckon is orders of magnitude more efficient (power, range etc) than WiMAX or other emerging technologies.

Unlike some journalists, I haven't had a demo, but I got to chat with their execs in some detail. They answered lot of my questions about latency, indoor performance and so on, but it seems like a lot of this will be up to exactly how the radio is implemented by any future licencees. There's nothing obviously untoward in the basic technology itself which would act as a limiting factor.

Apparently it works by modulating a signal onto a single wave cycle, rather than the 100s / 1000s of cycles more commonly used in other types of radio. (The long-buried physicist in me does wonder if this might induce any odd quantum effects, by trying to interpret a single wave, rather than averaging out a property measured over 100s - anyone else out there have a view on what Heisenberg & co might have to say about all this?)

More interesting was the commercial status & focus of the company. Essentially, they seem to be fending off various approaches from all and sundry in the telecoms industry, from chipmakers to equipment suppliers and carriers. Apparently, they don't need cash - they've been in stealth mode for 5 years & are quite happy on their own.

They are involved in an interesting game of chess - they want to create enough interest in their technology that someone agrees to licence it... but they don't want to give enough short-term concrete proof points that other companies try and use 1000s of engineers to reverse-engineer it themselves, emulate the idea and then adopt a "Go, on, try & sue us, how many lawyers have you got?" strategy.

Basically, their position is "we reckon we've got something cool, we want to create some buzz & speculation & excitement.... but we're quite happy if everyone else rubbishes it for a while longer, as it gives us a chance to navigate the mountains of unrealistic NDAs and liability legalese that prospective licencees are trying to foist on us".

It still sounds interesting, though.... and I guess there's half a chance some chipset manufacturer (Intel? Qualcomm?) might take a punt....

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