Mimosa unveils its first consumer product: A Wi-Fi booster for urban dwellers

Wireless startup Mimosa has been plugging Wi-Fi into a lot of networking products lately. It first injected Wi-Fi into transport networks by offering a backhaul radio to ISPs. It quickly turned to access networks, proffering up gear that replace the cable or copper line entering your home with a Wi-Fi link. Now it’s offering up its first consumer-facing product: A Wi-Fi router you actually install in your home.

Mimosa wouldn’t be Mimosa if it were just selling any off-the-shelf wireless router. Its C5i doesn’t have an ingress port connecting to your broadband modem. Instead, it pulls its internet connection directly from the airwaves. Specifically, it’s tapping outdoor Wi-Fi networks to deliver you an indoor Wi-Fi connection, sticking with its philosophy that Wi-Fi can be used to handle the broadband link from the network core all the way to the device.

The idea is for wireless ISPs and metro Wi-Fi providers to use the C5i as that final hop into the home. Over the last decade there have been some ambitious government and private projects to use Wi-Fi as the last mile connection to households that couldn’t afford broadband services. While the goal was noble, most of these projects failed because Wi-Fi mounted on a street pole just wasn’t powerful to deliver an adequate connection to the home, Jaime Fink, Mimosa chie\f product officer, told me in an interview.

Mimosa, however, has put its high-power smart antenna technology into a router, which you can stick to any street-facing window. It gathers up those weak signals from the street and redistributes their capacity on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi throughout a home. Fink said Mimosa believes that it will allow ISPs and cities to put those public hotspot networks back to work for home connectivity.