Carrier WiFi

Secrets of the Mesh, Part II

4:45 PM -- That didn't take long. Chris got back to me with a Data Sheet on Tropos Networks Inc. 's TMCX specification. But, as I expected, he wants me to sign an NDA to see the actual spec. Farpoint Group signs NDAs with clients all the time. But there's no point in my signing an NDA when working as an analyst, since there's no point in my learning something I can't tell you about. So, no, I've still not read the actual spec.

The data sheet, however, indicates that TMCX is designed to enhance reliability, security, range, mobility, remote troubleshooting, adding features to, configuring, and upgrading clients over the air, applications support, bandwidth management, service differentiation, efficiency in a metro operating environment, performance (rate selection, node selection, operator-initiated throughput testing), roaming, the gathering of client operational statistics, remote firmware upgrade, WPA/WPA2 support, 802.1X "Subscriber accounting," 802.11n support (I love this kind of forward thinking), and "Remotely provisioned rate limiting functionality."

I'm not sure what all of these are, nor how they work, but all of this sounds great. And, again, Chris informs me that all of this is more of a "best practices" than an API or otherwise an approach involving loading code on the client, but it seems that at least some of the above will require software on the client.

I'm not concerned that any of this would create incompatibilities when operating on a non-Tropos mesh, so this isn't a "lock-in" strategy on Tropos's part. I still think, however, that corporate IT types should have a detailed understanding of how all of this works, so as to be assured that no back doors into client devices are being created and to otherwise do the audit work necessary regardless. And I still think client functionality needs to be specified in a standard or spec from a recognized setter of such things, ideally 802.11 or the Wi-Fi Alliance , or a similar body.

I still don't see the value in keeping such specs secret. Tropos should be congratulated for taking a leadership position here, but I'd want a bit more information before I install anything along these lines on my clients.

For more on my views on this topic, click here.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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