Carrier WiFi

Tropos Taps Intel

Intel Capital has pumped an undisclosed amount of cash into Tropos Networks, a startup working on extending the range of 802.11 networks.

As usual, Intel's VC arm -- which has its own $150 million Wireless LAN fund -- has not announced how much money it has put into the San Mateo, Calif., startup. But usually it makes a "strategic investment" of $10 million or less (see How Intel Gets Inside for more on the chipmaker's investment strategy). Aside from the Intel investment, Tropos has so far scored $13.5 million in funding.

Tropos (formerly known as FHP Wireless Inc.) claims that its WLAN indoor and outdoor "cells" can increase the range of 802.11b (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) to enable ISPs to build metropolitan area networks. The Tropos access points each have a range of up to 300 feet but link together using mesh networking techniques so that they function as a team, passing data back and forth between the access points.

Intel has already said that it's interested in systems that increase the range of WLAN, particulary if it helps to improve the coverage of public access hotspot networks (see Intel Itches for WLAN Switches). It recently made a similar investment in Vivato Inc., an 802.11 switch startup that uses a smart antenna system to extend the range of its products (see Vivato's Silicon Sugar Daddy).

Better 802.11b coverage means -- of course -- that more people that buy laptops with Intel's Centrino chipset inside will be able to find a WLAN coverage zone when they want to (see 802.11: The New WAP?).

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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