Startup Aims to Raise Wireless LAN Ante

PALO ALTO, CALIF. (04/28/2000) - Newcomer Atheros Communications Inc. has announced plans for technology to speed up wireless LANs and ensure that wireless devices can communicate with each other even if they support different speeds.

The company, which has raised more than $30 million in funding, is building chipsets that would fit into wireless products for enterprise networks and homes. Atheros claims they would support speeds of more than 100M-bps in the 5-GHz spectrum. That would be a big jump in speed from current wireless LAN products in the 2.4-GHz spectrum, which typically max out at 11M-bps.

Atheros is sharing few details about its product plans, but is introducing itself now to start generating support for some standards modifications it plans to submit to the IEEE and ETSI standards bodies.

"The problem now is that you have technologies such as Bluetooth that interfere with 802.11 [an IEEE standard for wireless LANs]," says Rich Redelfs, president and CEO of Atheros and formerly a top executive in 3Com's wireless products group. "We're proposing a way to scale from low-speed to high-speed wireless LANs."

That way, end users will be able to communicate wirelessly with one another whether they are working on a laptop, handheld or other device.

Atheros initially is building chips based on 802.11a and HiperLAN II standards, but plans to develop technology down the road that will support the transfer of multimedia and other high-bandwidth applications through the air.

Atheros has its roots in technology developed by Teresa Meng, a Stanford University professor who serves as chief technology officer for the start-up.

The company was founded in May 1998.

Atheros: www.atheros.com.

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