Bountiful product could be beautiful for WiFi

Bountiful WiFi

Here's an unofficial nomination for coolest new product name of 2005: Bountiful WiFi. We're fairly sure the name for this wireless router wasn't a stroke of pure genius'the company, Bountiful WiFi Inc., is based near Bountiful, Utah'but we like it nonetheless. And if the product delivers on its promise, the name would also be apt.

David Egbert, the company's CEO, told GCN that Bountiful's core technology'a signal booster for WiFi access points'was first developed in 2003 for Linksys. But when Cisco Systems Inc. bought Linksys that year, it stopped purchasing the boosters (which Egbert said are not the same as signal amplifiers) so Bountiful was born to create and sell its own device. The challenge: making a wireless router that could double the coverage of traditional access points without giving off more than the Federal Communications Commission-approved 1 watt of output power.

Egbert said the Bountiful WiFi router has, in layman's terms, 'enlarged ears. If you just put an antenna on [an AP] and it's not smart, it can't hear very well.' With Bountiful's booster technology and a standard Atheros WiFi chip set, the router has been certified to put out 840 milliwatts'just under the FCC threshold'and provides between two and four times the range of standard 802.11g access points, Egbert said. He estimated that three or four Bountiful WiFi routers could provide the same coverage as roughly 10 APs.

Egbert also said the router would sell for less ($625) than competing products from Cisco and 3Com. Future iterations will use the same booster technology for point-to-point connectivity in metro wireless networks.

Agencies likely won't want to knock on Bountiful's door just yet. Egbert said the company's first batch of routers, due this month, has already been spoken for. But full production won't come until later in the year.

What's more, although the router supports all the latest 802.11 standards, it has not yet been submitted for Wireless Protected Access 2 certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance. WPA2 certification will be required for products deployed in Defense Department WLANs, according to DOD officials.

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