Tropos Unwires Rock Hill

Rock Hill, South Carolina is poised to install one of the biggest municipal WiFi deployments in the Southeastern United States today as it launches a 33-square-mile network powered by gear from Tropos Networks Inc. .

Not intended for public use, the new WiFi network is aimed at government workers -- encompassing everything from video streams for police vehicles to document transmissions on the move. The city will decide later whether to open up the network for public use. At the moment, Rock Hill, population 59,554, only offers meshed hotspots in recreational areas.

Around 750 Tropos routers have been used to cover the area, according to James Bagley, director of utilities at Rock Hill. Tropos 4210 mobile routers will also be installed in police and fire vehicles. More may be installed in coming months as the network usage demands.

Rock Hill has been examining its mesh options for around three years now and Bagley says that the firm has demo'd a number of systems from firms such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Nortel Networks Ltd. , as well as a handful of startups.

In the end, the decision came down to Tropos's ability to handle radio interference and deal with the area's topography, as well as the cost of deployment. Bagley says the vendors competing for the contract put in a wide array of bids detailing how much coverage would cost -- from around $1 million to around $10 million. The Tropos deployment has come in at "a little under $3.5 million," he adds.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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