Filtering Noise
New Company Gives Wi-Fi a Makeover

New Company Gives Wi-Fi a Makeover

Wi-Fi networks using Portal can take advantage of additional IEEE 802.11ac channels that are not used by traditional networks. (Image courtesy of Ignition Design Labs).

No question, Wi-Fi networks are everywhere today. Most everyone who is reading this uses Wi-Fi to access the Internet…and there is no doubt that most everyone reading this has also experienced extremely slow and unreliable Wi-Fi Internet access. Wi-Fi congestion leads to interference, which slows down Internet traffic and creates unreliable connections.

One new company, Ignition Design Labs (www.ignitiondl.com), is determined to improve the Wi-Fi experience. Its gameplan for doing so involves revolutionizing the Wi-Fi router. The company believes its technology can dramatically reduce congestion and provide a much faster Internet experience.

Ignition Design Labs’ solution is to use additional spectrum that most Wi-Fi networks ignore, which the firm achieves by opening up the dynamic frequency selection (DFS) channels. These channels account for roughly 65% of the entire 5-GHz spectrum in North America, while accounting for approximately 80% of the 5-GHz spectrum in Europe and Japan.

The DFS spectrum is not used by consumer routers on account of it requiring complex radar detection technology. Because implementing this technology entails high cost and demands a great deal of effort, it has basically been ignored by Wi-Fi equipment makers. However, Ignition Design Labs has developed a new form of radar detection technology, which the company says can be added to every new consumer router.

The company unveiled Portal, its new Wi-Fi router (also its first product) at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Portal should be available to customers by the end of the second quarter (see figure). Wi-Fi networks using it can take advantage of additional IEEE 802.11ac channels that are not used by traditional networks. The new router is intended to work seamlessly with the Wi-Fi devices that people already own.

Portal’s capabilities were demonstrated at CES, convincingly showing  that it could deliver continuous, non-interrupted streaming of three simultaneous 4K Ultra HD videos in a congested Wi-Fi environment. The company touts this as breakthrough performance—and indeed, perhaps it’s time for Wi-Fi technology to receive a makeover.  

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