Airgo Networks has produced a new product line that it says will match Ethernet data speeds.

Airgo's True MIMO Gen3 with ACE products range from Wi-Fi chip sets to reference designs, firmware, and software and offer a theoretical maximum speed of 240Mbit/s - more than 4.5 times the speed of 802.11 a and 802.11g.

That will translate to real-world throughput of about 115Mbit/s, said Airgo president and chief executive Greg Raleigh said. At its fastest real-world speed, this means wireless actually beats conventional Ethernet at 100Mbit/s.

"Up until now consumers have always asked the question, 'Why should I go wireless?'" Raleigh said. "The question now is, 'Why should I go wired?'"

Analyst Bob Wheeler of The Linley Group in Mountain View, California, says he believes Airgo's new line will enable streaming of high-definition video in most homes and small businesses. "That's where the higher data rates come into play," he says.

The technology could be damaing to the coming HomePlug AV products for powerline networking, Wheeler said. The HomePlug AV standard, which calls for speeds of up to 200Mbit/s, was only ratified a few weeks ago, and products have yet to appear, but backers of the technology (including Intel) see it as the best choice for streaming video.

Among other things, it doesn't get slower as it has to cover more ground, which is a problem with Wi-Fi. However Raleigh says a Gen3-based network could still achieve speeds of about 38Mbit/s - more than enough for HD video - when data is transmitted across four large rooms, and Wheeler says very few homes are large enough to require more robust technology.

However, Wheeler doesn't believe Gen3 with ACE will find much acceptance in the corporate world. "They will not adopt it until it's an industry standard, and that won't happen until 2007," he said. An IEEE committee is currently hammering out specifications for an 802.11n Wi-Fi standard that is expected to include the spatial multi-plexing technology that Airgo pioneered.