The next version of WiFi, known as 802.11n, has found a home in the consumer market. But soon, the high-speed WiFi standard will also catch on in the municipal broadband market. A case in point: Tropos Networks and D-Link are partnering to integrate D-Link’s 802.11n technology into Tropos’ WiFi mesh offerings. The Tropos/D-Link relationship comes at a critical time for the municipal broadband industry.
In recent months, several major cities have been forced to re-think their municipal broadband strategies because of shifting or questionable business models. EarthLink, one of the major service providers that had planned to deliver public broadband service to cities, retreated from the market because of internal and external financial issues.
Many wireless mesh companies including BelAir Networks continue to seek solutions providers to help meet municipal demand for new broadband networks. At the same time, most of the major mesh hardware providers are emphasizing application-driven networks — with a particular focus on public safety, video surveillance, automated meter reading and other applications that improve city services and deliver a return on investment. Watch for Cisco Systems to make a series of application-driven announcements sometime this month.
On the technology front, 802.11n promises to enhance the performance of wireless city applications — providing greater wireless coverage and faster throughput for voice, video and other IP applications. Although the 802.11n standard is not complete, it is widely considered mature enough for deployment in consumer and business settings. Only days before Tropos and D-Link announced their 802.11n partnership, Cisco Systems endorsed the current draft standard and announced enterprise-focused 802.11n gear.