DENVER A small startup claiming breakthroughs in phase-coherent filter modulation will be demonstrating its signal-processing techniques in analog pager bands later this year, as a prelude to offering its technology for a range of wireless and wireline networks.
Joe Bobier, a researcher who has worked on a variety of wireless LAN and solar energy transmission products in the last decade, is the principal researcher and founder of xG Technology LLC (Sarasota, Fla.). The company has hired David Stahl, former director of Lucent Technologies Inc.'s new venture group, as its chief executive.
Kent Cullers, the director of research and development at the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute, has worked in realms involving discrimination of weak signals in deep-space research efforts. He has tested Bobier's claims of using the modulation in a variety of VHF and UHF bands, concluding that "the SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) tests have been impressive in a variety of environments, and the technology seems very easy to implement."
Bobier said xG has not yet determined whether it will be solely a technology licensing organization, or whether it might offer chips and subsystems that implement the modulation method. The company has received initial funding from Mooers Branton & Company, which is majority shareholder.
Bankers Rick Mooers and Roger Branton have enlisted Richard Geruson, former senior vice president of Nokia Mobile Phones, to explore commercialization opportunities for the technology.
The company claim that any particular communications channel can operate at very close to Shannon limits, the noise limits defined by communications researcher Claude Shannon in the 1950s. For example, Bobier said, a single 800-MHz analog channel could transmit more data than most digital PCS systems.
"The xG in the title is a reference to 3G, 4G and beyond, with the assumption that this will be disruptive to the standard way of looking at next-generation wireless data services," Bobier said.
The modulation method is combined with a second proprietary data-encoding protocol, ideally used in conjunction with the modulation to provide high-speed packet data transmission in narrowband channels. While the company's focus will be on making better use of legacy narrowband systems, xG also will be exploring use of the modulation in broadband wireline channels, as the method could be used with fiber, coaxial or copper transmission.
Bobier previously presented details of his work at the Telecommunications Industry Association's Ventures 2002 show last July. At the time, Bobier claimed that analog paging channels would be able to transmit data at speeds of up to 150 Mbits/sec. He also began work last summer in reducing a typical TV transmission channel for coaxial cable from 6 MHz to 30 kHz.
When the company was formed in late 2002, Bobier and a small xG design team began designing a series of FPGAs to test the modulation concepts in silicon. The method requires new signal-processing chips in both base station (or headend) and client device, though the cost of implementing transceiver technology in handsets or appliances would be a small percentage of the system costs, Bobier said.
Cullers has been helping xG develop test suites for its technology since late last year. Cullers said he has been interested in following a variety of spread-spectrum and low-noise modulation concepts, but "I've never run across anything that is as impressive and straightforward in implementation as Joe's ideas."
The law firm Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast already is preparing initial presentations on the technology for the Federal Communications Commission, as well as drawing up a patent portfolio. Until intellectual-property issues of Bobier's modulation and data-encoding methods are better defined, the company is revealing little about its plans.
Tim Ayers, former vice president of communications at Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, said he agreed to work with xG after deciding the concepts carried more potential than various spread-spectrum and ultra-wideband schemes now being discussed by regulators. The simplicity of the xG concept, Ayers predicted, would allow its base of applications to be much bigger than any unique modulation concepts promoted in the last few years.