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Nortel, Wireless Valley Mesh

Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has added to its growing portfolio of wireless LAN mesh networking offerings through a partnership with startup Wireless Valley Communications Inc.

Nortel has been working with the startup to deliver a planning tool aimed at "addressing the planning and services market for outdoor campus and municipality/metro deployments," a Nortel spokesperson says, in a email reply to questions.

Here's the problem, says Wireless Valley: When you're designing a wireless mesh network today, you have to make sure you have enough access points to cover the area, yet at the same time make sure there aren't too many "hops" between access points.

The company has a primer on the problem on its Website at the MeshPlanner page. Wireless Valley says its software maps the area to be covered, places the APs, figures out which APs need to be connected to the wired network, and simulates network activity to test performance.

As metro-area mesh deployments grow larger, automated planning and management are likely to become key issues. Just as enterprise wireless LAN evolved from ad-hoc, largely unmanaged deployments into a world that be plotted, secured, and managed by a corporate network manager, the same thing is likely to happen to metro deployments. As more municipalities roll out meshes, cutting the cost and time required for network planning and management could be a big selling factor.

Indeed, firms such as Tropos Networks have already announced upgrades to existing network management software (see Tropos Adds Mesh Channels).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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