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As Wi-Fi becomes more popular and applications becomes more demanding, we’ve seen a number of companies trying to come up with next-generation routers that claim to offer better range and speeds. The latest to join the fray is Portal from Ignition Labs, a technology company founded by a group of ex-Qualcomm engineers.
Traditional Wi-Fi routers limit you to only two wireless lanes that must be shared with all the neighboring devices on the 2.4GHz or 5GHz radio spectrum. All this traffic, especially if you live in a congested urban area, makes Wi-Fi slower and more unreliable.
Like other high-end routers Portal supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, beamforming, MIMO, and more. However where it differs from the rest is the ability to work on all six channels of the 5GHz spectrum, airwaves that have previously only been accessible for radar purposes and no other consumer wireless currently supports.
The router is also smart enough to hop between different 5Ghz channels if it detects traffic congestion in any of them. All this reportedly results in access to 300% more of the radio airwaves than any other router, improving performance by as much as 300x, and range and coverage by as much as 2x in crowded settings.
Terry Ngo, CEO and co-founder of Ignition Design Labs, ran a brief demo for Engadget comparing the Portal with a Netgear Nitehawk router while standing around 50 feet away with a few walls in between. Whereas the Portal clocked in 25 Mbps download speeds and 5 Mbps uploads, with a latency of around 3ms, Netter’s router saw download speeds of 2Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps from the same location, with 30ms of latency.
Portal is hoping to raise $160,000 over the next 60 days with a Kickstarter campaign to bring the device to market. Backers can snag one for themselves starting at $139, though the final retail price will likely be higher.