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Strix's Tempe Mix

Startup Strix Systems Inc. is claiming to have the largest citywide WiFi mesh yet deployed with the launch of its 40 square-mile "WAZTempe" network in Tempe, Ariz. (See Strix Unwires Tempe.)

The firm has been aggressively promoting its presence in the metropolitan mesh market of late, and the Tempe ribbon cutting was no exception. Strix even staged a live Webcast of the event, which featured U.S. Senator John McCain and a demo of a fire truck transmitting and receiving data and voice calls while driving around town.

The launch comes a week after the company claimed the first countrywide mesh network in the world. (See Macedonia Goes Nuts on Mesh.)

But there's a point to this barrage of PR announcements. The startup was late to the metro mesh game, initially concentrating only on the enterprise market and generally leaving the mesh messaging to startup rivals like Tropos Networks, even when it did actually have some outdoor deployments.

Now the startup has only a limited amount of time to get its name and technology established as a metro play before giants like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) push into this cozy niche. (See Cisco Gets Meshy.)

And with new marketing VP Nan Chen onboard, the startup is certainly making up for lost time. "We have a couple of dozen metros deployed and equal or more number of metros we are working on," he tells Unstrung.

Incidentally, the coveted title of largest citywide metro mesh is likely to change hands several times over the coming year. For instance, Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) says that when its deployment in Taipei, Taiwan, is complete it will be largest, with 10,000 access points offering WiFi to 3 million citizens. (See Nortel Meshes on Home Turf.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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