GCN Insider | WiFi or super WiFi?

TRENDS & TECHNOLOGIES that affect the way government does IT

BIG BROTHER: Motorola is banking on the 802.11s standard for devices such as this Sony wireless camera, which now includes Motorola's Mesh Enabled Architecture.

Interesting day of phone calls recently. We talked to a senior engineer at Motorola about the draft IEEE 802.11s standard for wireless mesh networks. In 2004 Motorola acquired MeshNetworks Inc., a company that was on the leading edge of using 802.11 technology for municipal networks. Later, we spoke to Cohda Wireless CEO Martin Suter, once an executive at MeshNetworks who helped shepherd the acquisition.

It's now Suter and Australia-based Cohda's position that current WiFi technology is not suited to such networks. 'Outdoors is a different RF environment,' Suter said. 'I'm still bullish on 802.11' he added, but signal loss, interference, etc. mean cities typically have to deploy 30 to 40 access points per square mile (his estimate).

Cohda is working on enhanced 802.11 physical-layer techniques to address these issues. 'We take incoherent radio transmissions and make them coherent,' he said. How it does so is fairly involved (read about it at www.cohdawireless.com), but the bottom line is it could reduce by half the number of nodes a city must deploy, Suter said. We look forward to testing it in an 802.11-standard environment. Suter expects the company to set up U.S. demo networks around mid-year.

About the Authors

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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