The inventor of a radical wireless broadband technology has promised real products by the end of June - but the technology is still so closely-guarded it is impossible to say how real it is.
Using a technology known as xG, xMax promises to deliver better performance than WiMax, but at incredibly low power. The system was demonstrated in November, but under xMax's control, with the transmitter at the top of a wireless mast.
xMax's latest promise is that equipment will be available to buy - and for third parties to test - by the end of the second quarter of this year. The systems will effectively allow anyone to be a wireless ISP - broadcasting to a local area, at wavelengths and power levels where no licence would be required, and cheap enough for pretty much anyone to afford, says Rick Mooers, chief executive of xMax.
The latest demonstration sent a full motion video stream a distance of 100 feet using only 300 nanowatts of transmitted power. By comparison, typical 802.11 WLAN technology transmits up to 3 million times more power, said xG's inventor, Joe Bobier.
The US radio regulator, the FCC, has had the equipment tested in an authorised laboratory, says xMax's latest bulletin. The FCC only tested the equipment complied to radio emissions regulations, not for whether its performance matches xMax's claims, but the test does at least show that it will be legal to use in the license exempt 900 MHz band.
In November, the company let journalists get tantalisingly close to a demonstration which apparently sent a 3.67M bit/s signal over 18 miles using only 35 mW of output power.
Long term, the company almost certainly wants the technology bought by a big player, such as Intel, but so far, the technology has been kept under wraps. xMax says this is to avoid having the technology copied, but without equipment that other people can test in their own labs, the company's claims remain open to reasonable doubt.
Specifically, Bobier claims his technology can modulate RF signals so that one bit of data is carried on each cycle ("single cycle modulation"), and that it can carry signals on a wide band of spectrum at power levels so low that no licence is required.
The company is using the London office of Credit Suisse as a "strategic advisor", in order to give it more global appeal, said Mooers.