Smart antenna enhances 802.11 performance

California Amplifier has developed an adaptive digital beamforming smart antenna technology for 802.11 applications.

The Company has applied for patent protection on its beamforming technology and is evaluating incorporation of this technology into a next generation Wi-Fi chip, under a licensing agreement with an 802.11 integrated circuit developer.

In typical 802.11 systems, an access point acts as a hub station, coordinating communications between many client stations. The Company’s smart antenna technology, called RASTER, resides at the access point to enhance the coverage and data throughput, particularly in areas where poor signal quality is an issue. Unlike other approaches to increase throughput and coverage, products based on RASTER technology will not require any changes to the 802.11 standard, and are expected to work with commercially available network interface client cards.

California Amplifier’s RASTER beamforming technology, which was initially targeted to MMDS applications, has been in development since 2000. RASTER uses multiple antennas and digital signal processing to dynamically form an antenna pattern optimized to a desired client at any given instant, based on interference and other wireless channel conditions.

The Company has integrated RASTER with 802.11 physical layer and media access control processing, allowing an access point to form transmit and receive beams, cancel interference and better use high multipath, non-line-of-sight channels, thus improving performance. Development of RASTER-enhanced products that are cost-competitive with standard access points will require integration of this technology into a next generation 802.11 chip, which the Company expects will occur over the next 12 months.

Note: 802.11 refers to a family of specifications for wireless local area networks (WLANs) developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It specifies an over-the-air interface between a wireless client and a base station or between two wireless clients. There are currently four specifications in the family: 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g.