Picture By Bloomberg
Named after the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, it served as the capital of the Roman province of Judea and became one of the centers of early Christianity. Now the port city of Caesarea is home to luxury houses like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s – and the company developing the fastest Wi-Fi in the world. Wilocity is a 60-person company in Caesarea’s industrial zone that is developing what it describes as “the world’s first multi-gigabit wireless chipsets” based on new standards for super-high-speed Internet. The chips will be able to transmit data at a speed of seven gigabits per second, almost 25 times faster than one of the highest home Internet speeds currently available, 300 megabits per second. With every generation of the product, capability improves and speed increases, said Yaron Elboim, Wilocity’s vice president of engineering, who handles the company’s activities in Israel. “As soon as you have speed, there’s no end to the applications.” The company has secured $105 million in funding, reflecting investors’ confidence in the specialized set of chips coming from an ancient Roman city, far from the spotlight, that could zoom Web use to a whole new realm of speed. With 300 megabits per second, users can download a two-hour high-definition movie in 2.2 minutes, run 14 Internet-connected devices simultaneously or download 10 songs in 1.4 seconds, according to technology website Digital Trends.
“This kind of communication lets you play a high-definition movie from the computer on the television screen, without freezing,” said Elboim. It lets you backup your smartphone on your computer and vice versa in seconds, where today it takes hours. Megabits or gigabits per second is only part of the story, said Elboim. For a difference of 10 times the speed on paper, the effective difference is almost 100 times, since Wi-Fi slows down when there are a lot of users on the same system. In an office using standard Wi-Fi, Elboim said, “Dozens of office workers are sharing Internet access, and it’s very slow. We replaced all the company employees’ Wi-Fi chips with our chip, and they go online with almost no restrictions.” That’s because unlike the current Wi-Fi technology, Wilocity’s high-speed version does not split up the bandwidth among users. While this is an advantage of the technology, there’s also a major downside: The router and the computer have to be in the same room. It works from a distance of 100 meters, or 328 feet, but is not effective through walls or other physical impediments. Wilocity recently concluded a $35 million financing round that brought in Israeli venture capital funds like Alan Feld’s Vintage Investment Partners and Shlomo Kalish’s Jerusalem Global Ventures. Other investors include semiconductor manufacturers Marvell and Qualcomm and networking equipment maker Cisco. Leading foreign funds are also inside, including Sequoia Capital, Benchmark and Tallwood Venture Capital. Wilocity’s microchip technology has already been embedded for about a year in some Dell computers geared toward businesses. The next generation devices, which are in an advanced stage of development, will have even smaller and more energy-efficient chips. The super-fast technology is based on new WiGig 60-gigahertz and IEEE802.11 standards for Wi-Fi. The new standards were approved in March of this year, and is expected to become the primary standard in computing over the next few years.
“First it will go into the business routers, then to computers for the consumer market and later, the standard will also reach mobile,” said Elboim. “It’s a matter of price.”