Broadband Wireless Internet Access Weblog : Steve Stroh's commentary on significant developments in the BWIA industry
Updated: 12/2/2002; 7:31:55 AM.


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Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Vivato - This Would Seem To Change Everything

I'm traveling this week, attending ISPCON in San Jose, California. On Thursday, November 7, from 10:00 to 11:00, I'll be leading a Keynote panel discussion titled WISPs: Alive and Kicking ( While in San Jose I also hope to visit a few Broadband Wireless Internet Access vendors. While traveling, I'll be posting to the BWIA Weblog using Radio Userland's "Mail To Weblog" feature. Apologies for the inevitable formatting gaffs.

I'll confess that when news of Vivato ( (formerly Mabuhay Networks) hit the news on Monday morning, I was a more than a bit skeptical. Vivato claims that using phased array antennas technology, users with "ordinary" 802.11b / Wi-Fi cards, typically transmitting at ~ 30 mW into an inefficient antenna, can connect with a Vivato access point at ranges of up to hundreds, even thousands of feet inside buildings, and up to four miles outdoors.

More than a bit skeptical; really on my guard, I contacted an individual who I thought might have some knowlege of Vivato. I was right, and in a few sentences, the individual convinced me (in no small part because of their impeccable credentials and experience) that Vivato's claims are in fact legitimate. Now to try to change my schedule (and theirs) to try to arrange a visit while I'm in the area (Vivato is in San Francisco) to learn more.

Though I find their terminology ("Wi-Fi Switching") questionable, Vivato's technology is clearly one of the right approaches to achieving much greater scale in use of 802.11b / Wi-Fi devices. (Other approaches include integral-in-the-client mesh networking and ubiquitous deployment of conventional access points.)

A number of BWIA vendors have made use of phased array antenna technology, notably ArrayComm, BeamReach Networks, SOMA Networks. But those systems incorporate proprietary radio elements - the breakthrough that Vivato achieves is that the client is "just" an ordinary 802.11b / Wi-Fi device... any 802.11b / Wi-Fi device... including the wave of handheld computers / PDA's about to emerge with integral 802.11b / Wi-Fi. Doing so overcomes a major hurdle - the CPE expense issue is eliminated because the client has already bought it and installed it themselves.

There are completely legitimate arguments to be made about using "better than Wi-Fi" radio technology alongside phased array antennas, many of which I agree with. But the reality is that competing vendors (and I) have to come to grips with is that those arguments pale in comparison and are largely swept aside in the realities of market potential of millions of new 802.11b / Wi-Fi devices being bought every month. For all its "warts" (and there are many such "warts") 802.11b / Wi-Fi is a pretty reasonable wireless networking communications standard if its limitations are observed. About the only way those limitations can be observed - and overcome, is to address all the limitations at the access point. With the use of phased array antenna technology, Vivato apparently "fools" each 802.11b device in its coverage area that it is communicating with a conventional access point. That the access point it's connected to is some distance away is completely transparent to the client 802.11b / Wi-Fi device.

I'll be providing much more in-depth coverage of Vivato to the subscribers of Focus On Broadband Wireless Internet Access.

As always, comments are appreciated -

7:42:10 AM    

© Copyright 2002 Steve Stroh.

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