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Strix Has WiMax Plans

Wireless LAN mesh startup Strix Systems Inc. is planning to add WiMax to its product line as customers look for bigger networks with fewer connections to the wired Internet.

Strix is making the move as the head of steam grows behind metropolitan-wide WiFi mesh networks. The winners of the first large municipal network of this kind in the U.S. -- a.k.a. the Philadelphia experiment -- are expected to be announced soon. And all of the startups in the mesh space, from BelAir Networks Inc. to Firetide Inc. and Tropos Networks Inc., are pushing enhancements and additions to their product lines. (See BelAir Buffs Up , Firetide Intros HotPort, and Tropos Pairs With HP, Bags $15M.)

Strix is pushing WiMax as a slide-in radio upgrade for its already modular system. (See Mesh Springs Into Life.) The idea is that with WiMax radios providing the backhaul connections and WiFi at the front end, municipal and service provider customers can have larger mesh networks with fewer links to the wired world.

"Our customers are not CLECs, they're not the ones that own the infrastructure," says Cyrus Irani, vice president of strategy and advanced development at Strix. "What they want is a set of meshed picocells. They want to save money and they want to enter markets quickly."

Strix is by no means the biggest name in the outdoor mesh game. The company started as a pure enterprise play, shipping indoor mesh nodes. "We shipped thousands of indoor nodes," says Irani. He adds that the company now has won six or seven outdoor deployments since it started shipping its all-weather box a few months ago.

In contrast, Tropos claims to have more than 250 metro mesh customers. But Irani has a tricky answer for this, noting that the Strix boxes have four to six radios on board, whereas Tropos has largely shipped single radio boxes. [Ed. note: This kind of thing isn't going to get confusing at all, is it?]

Still, BelAir, Strix, and Tropos are all pushing WiMax as the next generation of backhaul for mesh systems. So, when's it going to happen, boys?

"We're probably talking a year from now," opines Irani, who adds that he's still waiting for the standardization and testing of fixed WiMax products to be completed. Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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