Networking startup Mimosa develops a Wi-Fi link that could replace DSL

Mimosa Networks believes Wi-Fi will play a big role in the future of residential broadband – not just redistributing your internet connection to all of the devices in your home, but providing the actual internet link from your ISP.

The Silicon Valley startup is using new IEEE 802.11ac technologies to create very high-speed links, and it’s developed its own beamforming technologies that can aim those links from a tower to a special antenna mounted on your roof miles away, surpassing Wi-Fi’s traditional range limitations. The result is an inexpensive wireless network that uses unlicensed technology, but can deliver speeds north of 100 Mbps at distances up to 5 or 6 miles, said Jaime Fink, Mimosa chief product officer.

After raising a $20 million Series C round led by NEA, Mimosa launched its first product in August: a gigabit-speed wireless radio used for backhaul (transporting data from a tower to the network core). But on Wednesday it unveiled its first access radios, the core products it plans to sell to its wireless ISP customers starting next year.

A Mimosa C5 access point
A Mimosa C5 access point

The big one is the A5, Mimosa’s access point, but it bears little resemblance to the wireless router sitting in your office. It supports 250 radio connections. Mimosa is using Quantenna’s 802.11ac chips, which support a new technique called multi-user multiple input/multiple output (MU-MIMO) that can send different data streams over the same Wi-Fi channel to separate homes. Precise timing data taken from GPS receivers help the A5 coordinate its transmissions so all of these radios don’t interfere with one another.

Technically a single A5 could host 1,000 individual connections, Fink said, though that would shoulder an enormous amount of capacity on a single access point. Still, that’s not bad for a piece of gear that Mimosa plans to sell for about $1,000 and that requires no spectrum investment from a carrier.

The obvious targets for this kind of technology will be wireless ISPs, especially those operating overseas in countries with little installed wireline infrastructure, Fink said. But Mimosa believes there is a plenty big market for the technology in the U.S., especially in suburban areas. Mimosa’s technology has the range and the speed to blow DSL out of the water, and it’s fast enough to compete with cable broadband in many cases, Fink said.

Fink added that many ISPs in the U.S. are already testing out Mimosa’s backhaul radio and have expressed interest in its access products. The U.S. definitely needs more broadband options. Well, Mimosa claims it has an alternative, but many companies have made the same claim in the past (remember WiMAX). I’m very curious to see if it can deliver.