Propagate, a start-up based in Acton, Mass., has developed software that allows for the implementation of what is called self-organizing wireless LANs. Using a closed-loop feedback system, its AutoCell technology dynamically adapts power output and frequency based on network operational characteristics. If too many users are contending for bandwidth on a particular access point on a particular channel, AutoCell will adjust power levels and dynamically re-associate users to a less-congested access point on a different channel. The result is a WLAN environment that not only provides better performance and scalability, but also automatically resolves co-channel interference problems.
The AutoCell software is embedded in access points and clients by Propagate's manufacturing partners, including Atheros and Netgear. However, in the long run, it's hard to imagine how the system will succeed unless it is included in a broad array of enterprise-class WLAN products. Will chipmakers be willing to fork over license fees to Propagate to realize the system's benefits or will a variation of Propagate's technology find its way into some future 802.11 standard? Let's hope one of those happens, because the underlying technology is vital to the success of the wireless enterprise.