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September 22, 2006

Xirrus Awarded Patent for WiFi Array Design

By Erik Linask, Associate Editor,
Internet Telephony magazine

Xirrus, a three-year-old company that provides WiFi (News - Alert) connectivity hardware for the enterprise and SMB space, has recently been awarded its first patent for the design of its WiFi Array.

United States Patent Number US D526,973 S has been issued covering the physical housing of the product — which is what is eye catching in and of itself. If you were to walk past their booth, say at a trade show, you would have a hard time missing what appears to be a pie-sized smoke detector. In reality, that eye catching device is Xirrus’ high capacity, long range WiFi array.
“This patent the result of a series of applications designed to strengthen our Intellectual Property portfolio solidifying our position as an innovator in the WiFi market,” said Dirk Gates, CEO of Xirrus.  “Our first design patent on the WiFi Array makes it tougher for our competitors to deliver a high capacity wireless networking solution.”
While the patent specifically addresses the physical housing, the real power behind Xirrus lies in the 360-degree configuration of the four, eight, or sixteen radios in the devices, which result in significant capacity and range improvements over traditional WiFi access points, despite using the same technology. The Arrays also incorporate a WLAN switch/controller with the Integrated Access Points (IAPs) in its devices, further helping defray the cost of a wireless deployment. The Arrays connect directly to the Ethernet or they can be connected wirelessly to each other via their radios.
In addition to simply providing added range and capacity, Xirrus’ intent was to ensure its wireless hardware is capable of not only handling today’s next-generation applications, like Voice and Video over IP, but the company has pre-engineered the products for compatibility with coming 802.11n standards. Which means that customers will not need to upgrade their wireless infrastructure once 11n is approved.
Each Xirrus WiFi Array is capable of handling and prioritizing 180 simultaneous VoIP, 45 simultaneous SDTV video streams, wireless Fast Ethernet backhaul links between Arrays, Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to the Wired network, and fast roaming between radios within an Array and between Arrays.
With its design, Xirrus is able to provide Gigabit Ethernet-like connectivity wirelessly, covering more area with fewer devices than conventional AP manufacturers. In fact, at a recent trade show, Xirrus says it was able to cover the exhibit floor with two units (though it used three for the sake of redundancy, which makes sense given the number of potential users in a trade show scenario).
Indeed, it was able to cover the entire facility — from the front walkway to the keynote hall to the conference session rooms to the exhibit hall — with no more than ten arrays. In comparison, Xirrus believes it would have taken eight to ten times as many conventional WiFi APs to cover the same facility, and even then it would not have produced the same throughput.
Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY. Most recently, he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.


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