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By GCN Staff

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Muni WiFi gets a boost

Tropos Networks, which is involved in a slew of municipal WiFi projects, including those in San Francisco and Philadelphia, said today it plans to roll out a new family of mesh routers that could mean additional bandwidth for muni networks.

The new Tropos 5320 MetroMesh routers have two radios instead of one. One of the radios, which will operate at 5GHz, could be used to communicate among the routers that make up the mesh network. That would leave all the bandwidth in the 2.4GHz frequency for end-user applications.

The 5GHz spectrum, while faster thanks to its higher frequency, can't penetrate buildings or other barriers as well as the 2.4GHz frequency. Which is why it makes sense for line-of-site communication among routers. Still, the Tropos software works in such a way that it can intelligently switch between frequencies for client-router or router-router communications depending on the situation. Either way, cities can build more flexible, faster WiFi networks.

Of course, the new routers will be more expensive than the current generation. CNET.com reported the premium adding up to 30 percent to the cost of a muni network. But because few cities will pull down routers they've already strung up, and because the new dual-radio routers can communicate with Tropos' existing 2.4GHz models, the real-world costs shouldn't be that much greater, at least in the short-term.

Tropos said the new routers would be out in October.

Posted by Brad Grimes

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on Aug 17, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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