Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, December 2, 2005

Beyond Wireless Broadband, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, Wi-Bro: XMax Goes The Distance

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As I wrote here before, xMax is a new wireless and wireline transmission technology which allows very significant increases in wireless transmission reach and capacity. A month ago tomorrow, a small group of reporters attended the first press demonstration of this revolutionary technology in the swamps of Florida, and outside of the impossibility of directly checking and "seeing" some of the transmission parts involved, the showcased results were nothing short of impressive.

Photo credit: Dave Dyet

After having announced this new technology back in July of this year, I have unsuccessfully attempted to interview the key person (Joe Bobier) behind this new truly disruptive technology. Notwithstanding the missed interview and fueled by the interest to provide more information and increased awareness around this potential new data transmission platform I have gone ahead in following some of the latest developments and in providing some new information about it.

xMax uses a transmitter similar to those used in cordless phone base stations and which operate in an unlicensed and very crowded frequency spectrum in the 900MHz band and is capable of sending a 3.7Mbit/s data signal to a radius of 18 miles, while utilizing only an omnidirectional antenna powered by a 50mW transmitter!

xMax goes beyond what were considered physical limits of existing Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, Wi-Bro and radio technology, it leaves 3- and 4G in the dust, and may further prove to be also much less costly to deploy.

According to the written specs distributed to the press at the demonstration xG Technology is capable of realizing performance improvements over similar transmission technologies by literally orders of magnitude - 10x, 20x, 30x, 100x.


As companies scramble to develop 3G telephony and data services, the need to acquire additional radio spectrum from the FCC has become a pressing issue.

To accommodate increased demand for data services, the radio spectrum bandwidth needed to transmit data must increase proportionally. Essentially, in order to effectively transmit more data, the speed of data carried must also increase, which means that the allocated channel width must also be increased.

Since the demand for spectrum exceeds today's supply, competitors have driven up the price for this scare commodity. As such, the cost of spectrum licenses constitutes an increasingly high percentage of the overall cost of delivering wireless services. Despite these high costs, in the U.S., no single block of radio spectrum remains unallocated in sufficient size to meet the needs of 3G services.

xMax solves this problem by dramatically reducing the amount of allocated spectrum required to transmit data.

xMax uses a narrow channel allocation of dedicated spectrum to coordinate reception of its non-interfering, xG Flash Signal. By using xG Flash Signaling to convey wideband data below the noise floor, xMax allows for efficient spectrum reuse by numerous users in a manner that solves the spectrum crunch.

Because xG Flash Signaling accomplishes this with far less "out of band" energy than traditional modulation systems such as CDMA and GSM, xMax helps to "clean-up" the spectrum for more efficient use than is currently realized.

In typical situations today, the greatest impediments encountered when trying to deploy wireless broadband for the consumer market are:

  • line-of-sight restrictions,

  • high costs of end-user equipment, and

  • carrier truck rolls

xMax may indeed be able to wipe out all the above issues in one move.


xMax is essentially a new way of modulating data which allows enormous improvements in data rates capacity both across wireless and landline communication infrastructures.

xMax does not utilize compression techniques to achieve its extraordinary results as it employs two very popular communication approaches to make an extremely more efficient use of the radio spectrum available.

What xMax in fact does is to intelligently blend the unique characteristics of narrow-band carrier systems with those of the non-interfering components utilized in low-power wide-band transmission systems. The end result is an exponential increase in data-rate capacity and a very significant decrease in power transmission requirements.

Because of all this you can imagine how vast could be the implications of the arrival of such a disruptive transmission and data distribution technology, which would not only put rapidly out of market existing ADSL and cable operations, but it would also create immediate opportunities for broadband-based content and services to be widely distributed for a fraction of the money that it would cost today.

xMax would in fact enable wide and easy adoption of high-bandwidth services such as video-based real-time collaboration, high definition television (HDTV), video-on-demand, IPTV, to name some of the most popular ones.

Due to its technological characteristics xMax technology can be interleaved within existing cable RF channels and can operate over existing network physical infrastructure which would clearly allow existing operators to start offering new xMax-based services without ever needing to interrupt existing services.

Because of this xMax appears a strategic alternative to seriously followed by telecom that still heavily rely on landline infrastructures.

In terms of specifics facts, xMax is reported to be so reliable and with such a higher level of quality that signal capacity improvements could allow cable operators to deliver over one thousand channels of broadband-like services.

In the DSL universe xMax is supposed to deliver much higher data-rates while increasing the effective reach to about 21 Km from the central transmission base.

During the early November demonstration xMax technology was used to broadcast a data stream equivalent to a full-motion MPEG-2 video with stereo sound at a distance of 18 miles. The transmitter utilized for the demonstration required only 50 milliwatts of power to operate.

Here are some of the other unique characteristics of xMax:

  • xMax can be designed to operate at any frequency and it is suitable for use on licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
  • xMax achieves equal transmission reach with far less power, thereby improving battery life. A wireless LAN powered with this technology could run on a set of batteries for a few years.
  • Significantly less infrastructure is required to cover a given service area.
  • The emergence of a true retail fixed wireless model becomes possible as xMax enables the design of affordable "over the counter" modems that eliminate the need for high gain antennas or expensive outside mounting.
  • With line of sight no longer an issue, broadband for the user becomes portable, from home to car to office to pocket.
  • xMax could even modulate signals carried over copper lines and this might allow DSL technologies to immediately offer much higher data rates and a greater reach.

According to xG Technology, the company behind this new technology, xMax already complies with all regulatory thresholds set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that prevent one system from interfering with another's operation.

What is also very interesting is that the core research and development underlying xMax is now already complete. The company has developed working reference hardware designs and the modulation and demodulation circuitry can be integrated into FPGA or ASIC and will be utilized typically into equipment such as computers, TV's, phones, cell phones, base stations, and more.

xMax technology has been also been checked over by Princeton professor of electrical engineering Stuart Schwartz who has effectively staked his reputation on it.

Photo credit: Professor Stuart Schwartz of Princeton University

Does xMax really work?

For now, no-one can say for sure. Not even xG technology itself.

No independent tests have been so far published nonetheless the company has demonstrated a very important part of its plans:

"in its November demonstration it has covered an area of over a thousand square miles with a claimed 50mW signal, and shown nearly 4Mbps arriving at a point almost 18 miles from the transmitter.

Even given the details of the test -- some 14dB total gain in the antenna systems and a 260m-tall tower for the transmitter -- this is an exceptional result.


UWB, perhaps the closest technology to xMax in existence, has so far failed to turn into consumer products after more than five years of promises. It is not clear that xMax could escape a similar fate, even if the technology questions were to be universally agreed."
(Source: ZDNet UK - Could xMax change the world of broadband? - ZDNet UK News)

xMax has been developed by xG Technology, a company based in Sarasota, Florida. xG Technology, LLC is not a manufacturer of consumer products and it provides value to licensees who will use their technology for the manufacture of their own products and services.

xG has promised to have commercial systems ready by the second half of next year, which can be sold off-the-shelf.

More information:
"Analysis of possible problems and issues with xMax technology" -

xG Technology -
Reference: xG Technology [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Friday, December 2 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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