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There has been a significant shift in consumers accessing movies, television shows, sporting events and other video via wireless devices in recent years. While this new trend is growing, streaming high-definition (HD) video wirelessly to multiple screens has not come without challenges. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to watch your favorite HD video and getting a tiled picture, or worse, being interrupted by an error message saying that you’ve lost connection.

While the topics of on-demand content and the Internet of Things (IoT) grace almost every tech headline, delivering a stronger, faster and more reliable Wi-Fi signal is still a huge component to the equation. Connectivity is the heartbeat that enables these 5 GHz and IoT applications, yet meeting the rigorous demands of OEMs, service providers and consumers has proven increasingly steep and far more challenging than the industry anticipated.

Active Steering System Solution Improves Connectivity

One solution that solves these challenges is Ethertronics’ Active Steering System for 5 GHz – a new plug-and-play configuration that enables Ethertronics’ Active Steering technology. The solution combines an antenna, Ethertronics’ recently announced EtherChip EC482 multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) RFIC (or the EtherChip EC614 four-port RF switch) and an algorithm into a single system module (see Figure 1). For the burgeoning streaming HD video applications, the Active Steering System for 5 GHz can be easily integrated into a variety of products, including access points, set-top boxes, smart appliances, Wi-Fi extenders, wearables and other IoT devices.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Components of the MIMO Active Steering System Solution.

Ethertronics’ Active Steering technology generates multiple radiation patterns from a single antenna structure. The EC482 MIMO RFIC (see Figure 2) enables beam steering by sampling and switching between the antenna’s multiple radiation patterns to select the pattern that provides the best RF link performance. This capability improves range and data throughput, reduces interference and increases robustness and connection reliability in multipath environments. Ethertronics’ technology achieves ubiquitous coverage regardless of the box’s orientation or location, which eases installation and improves quality.

Solving the Market Challenge

With MIMO becoming more prevalent for Wi-Fi, the need for two or more antennas collocated in a mobile device or small form factor access point is becoming common. These groups of antennas need to have high – and preferably equal – efficiencies with good isolation and low correlation. With access point applications, the multipath environment is constantly changing, which affects the throughput performance of the communication link. Ethertronics’ new Active Steering System Solution for 5 GHz, with the embedded EC482 RFIC, addresses these challenging RF environments by dynamically tuning and optimizing the antenna system parameters for the MIMO system to provide greater throughput. In addition to solving the MIMO challenges associated with the 5 GHz band, this system enables a single gateway to stream video, data and voice – from a single box or access point – since these components are co-developed and optimized as a system to provide a solution that is cost effective and easy to integrate.

Figure 2

Figure 2 The EC482 RFIC comprises the RF switches, control circuitry and algorithm to select the antenna pattern that optimizes system performance.

OEMs can realize time-to-market and cost benefits with the Active Steering System Solution. The embedded EtherChip EC482 is designed for the high frequency and fast RF switching environment that Wi-Fi systems demand. The EtherChip EC482 contains the RF switch, which adjusts the antenna pattern, as well as the algorithm and communication and control conduits that sample and switch among the patterns, adaptively making the optimal selection. For MIMO Wi-Fi applications, the master EC482 can control multiple Active Steering antennas in concert with EtherChip EC614s. An EC482 is used for the first Active Steering element, and an EC614 is utilized for each additional Active Steering element. This combination provides the most cost-effective solution for customers.

With the Active Steering System, an OEM can replace one of the existing antennas, all 5 GHz antennas or a subset of them in a single box, since the antenna, chip and algorithms are configured as one system. To further ease integration, the Active Steering System for 5 GHz is available as a 2D antenna on a flexible circuit that can be placed anywhere in the box, or it can be printed on the host PCB to further reduce cost. With an operating frequency of 100 to 7000 MHz, the Active Steering System Solution has a small footprint and minimizes power consumption.

Active Steering provides a host of benefits, including uninterrupted service, faster data throughput for video streaming and no video tiling.

Ethertronics Inc.
San Diego, Calif.
(858) 550-3820