Friday, November 04, 2005

A new kind of radio?

So I'm in Florida to see xMax, a new kind of radio technology from a company called xG. The details are all on Techworld, and you can also see stuff at xG's site.

The demo we saw appeared to send data from a 50mW base station, using an omnidirectional antenna, to a receiver 18 miles away. Now that is impressive - consider how small a signal that is, when you reach that radius!

Now, such demos are often prey to claims that they might have been faked. This one has been checked over by Princeton professor of electrical engineering Stuart Schwartz, but the journalists on the trip still did our best to check things out.

Here is radio wizard Rupert Goodwins of ZDNet checking the antenna connections to the black box and the oscilloscope, while the inventor, Joe Bobier, talked to the rest of us.

But when it came to the base station, we had to take their word for it. Was it really a 50mW signal? Was the antenna really omnidirection (a crucial point, since a directional antenna would have given a far better power level at the receiving station.

I'm afraid we had to take the word of Bobier and Schwartz, because the transmitting station is at the top of an 850 foot tower, in the middle of the hurricane-battered Everglades.

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