Wi-Fi Gets a Boost With Quantenna Chips

If you’re like me and believe that Wi-Fi is going to rule the home networking environment, then a means to ensure reliable and fast Wi-Fi connectivity to all corners of the home becomes essential. That’s where chipsets from Quantenna Communications, a startup from Sunnyvale, Calif., could come in handy. The company, which has raised $27 million from Sequoia Capital, Sigma Partners and Venrock Associates, expects to announce on Tuesday three chipsets that boost Wi-Fi signals with a small footprint.

The chips are being designed to solve the problem of uneven Wi-Fi coverage that results when signals are forced to travel through walls, weakening their strength. The design also tries to avoid interference from other devices operating in the 2.4 or 5 Ghz bands with a dual-band chip and MIMO technology. The firm is offering a chipset for the 2.4 Ghz band, one for 5 Ghz, as well as a dual-band chipset.

The chips will sell for $20 if produced in large amounts (and $40 for the dual-band chip). The goal is to create cheap, small Wi-Fi signal boosters that plug into a wall and amplify the signals from an existing Wi-Fi network. That in turn makes it easier for carriers to offer services such as wireless video transmission or data in all corners of the house and guarantee a certain quality of service. CEO Behrooz Rezvani CEO told me Quantenna has agreements in place with a few carriers, and hopes to have products on the market in the middle of 2009.

Another end market for the chips might be consumer-oriented firms, such as Dell and Apple, that are looking to offer more services over Wi-Fi. Set-top box makers might use such chips to offer better wireless video delivery around the home. Currently the chipsets are pretty pricey, but the problem of uneven Wi-Fi coverage is prevalent enough that if the technology works, Quantenna’s chips could gain widespread adoption.

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