Mesh Springs Into Life

Ah, spring! When the fresh, crisp air sets startups thinking about building products rough and tough to be used in the great outdoors.

Strix's Outdoor Trix: One such startup is enterprise 802.11 startup Strix Systems Inc., which has emerged blinking into the sunlight with new outdoor wireless mesh products.

The firm's box can support up to six 802.11 radios in all the currently available favors (a/b/g). The firm has also adapted the "virtual AP" concept popular with some other vendors for mesh usage, offering 16 service set identifiers (SSIDs) for different services and levels of service over a single access point (see Colubris's Talk Box for more on this).

Customers have actually been using Strix's enterprise wireless LAN system in outdooor deployments for a couple of years, according to Doug Huemme, associate VP of marketing at the startup, by buying outdoor coverings for its indoor boxes.

"We probably should have responded sooner than we did in supplying an outdoor product," he admits to Unstrung.

Tropos G's Up: Meanwhile, metro mesh contender Tropos Networks is onto its next generation of 802.11 hardware. The firm has now added support for 54-Mbit/s 802.11g specification to its product line.

But the firm is sticking to its knitting over its approach to wireless LAN metro mesh networking. Tropos uses a single-radio architecture for mesh networking, rather than the two-radio backhaul and access system favored by many of the firm's startup and established rivals.

"Multiband requires three times the node density of a single-radio system," claims Bert Williams, VP marketing at Tropos. But he says Tropos will eventually develop a multi-radio system, when the "incremenetal performance benefits" of a multi-radio system outweigh the extra costs.

Philadelphia Dreaming: There is, of course, a point to all this outdoor activity. And with the city of Philadephia now pushing ahead with its citywide WiFi plan, we're likely to see more cities follow suit and more companies get into this potentially lucrative market.

Williams says he knows that many companies now are "scurrying" to get proposals in to be the Philly WLAN provider. "It's like a duck," he says. "It looks good on top, but it is pulling like hell underneath."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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