Deadspots be gone, or at least diminished. Startup hField Technologies has rolled out its first product, the Wi-Fire external Wi-Fi adapter designed to extend the connectivity reach of a Wi-Fi access point up to 1,000 feet.
Wi-Fire is an external adapter designed to extend not only the distance, but also the speed of a Wi-Fi network. Unlike traditional internal adapters, Wi-Fire will maintain the connection speed up until a very low signal level, says Tom DiClemente, hField’s CEO. The adapter has demonstrated the ability to maintain speeds necessary for high-bandwidth users even when internal adapters have failed to maintain a connect due to a weak signal.
The hField adapter, which measures 3 inches by 4 inches and is 3/8-inch think, is designed to extend the range of the connection up to three times the distance of a traditional internal adapter. “The use of wireless is growing tremendously – particularly in municipal and university, and there are a lot of dissatisfied customers because they can’t connect (from off campus, for example),” says DiClemente, who notes most students want to be mobile, but don’t want to pay for an independent Wi-Fi service when they already have free access from their university. Industry statistics indicated that 30 percent of universities were using Wi-Fi in 2005, according to DiClemente. That percentage is expected to balloon to 60 percent in the next three years, he says.
While DiClemente holds some trade secrets dear about how the adapter achieves its effectiveness, he did offer some explanation in general terms. “The hardware makes use of a highly sensitive receiver and a directional antenna technology that gives much higher gain.”The company also makes use of fast-response connection management software that identifies the optimal access points for each user depending on location. “We produce tremendous gain out of a small package with very little power drawn from the computer,” DiClemente says.
The adapter is interoperable with any 802.11 b/g systems. The unit’s backwards compatibility negates the need for universities or municipalities to invest in infrastructure changes, according to DiClemente.
hField is mainly targeting its new product at municipal and university Wi-Fi users, but DiClemente says the adapter has appeal to a range of mobile Wi-Fi users.