Cisco Targets Mesh Networking

Building on the strength of its recent acquisition of Airespace, Cisco plans a move into the emerging wireless mesh networking market.

Cisco Systems Inc., building on the strength of its recent acquisition of Airespace Inc., is planning a move into the emerging wireless mesh networking market.

Airespace already had developed an outdoor access point to support point-to-multipoint applications and the bridging of wired networks over a wireless backhaul, according to documents submitted to the Federal Communications Commission.

The new access point supports 802.11a/b/g via two omnidirectional monopole antennas, one for the 2.4GHz band. It includes two power connectors, one for direct AC and one for POE (power over Ethernet). The access point was designed with municipal deployments in mind and is meant for installation on a rooftop or streetlight, according to the documents.

Officials at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif., declined to comment specifically but said the company is paying attention to the municipal mesh market and will take advantage of all the assets of Airespace, which it officially acquired last month.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about the acquisition.

"Its fair to say Airespace had development in the space," said Alan Cohen, formerly an executive at Airespace and now senior director of product management in Ciscos Wireless Networking Business Unit. "The Airespace product line has gone forward inside Cisco. Theres no reason to believe that this wont be true for any upcoming products."

Mesh networks dynamically route packets from node to node. Only one access point needs to be connected directly to the wired network, with the rest sharing a connection over the air.

Motorola Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd. already offer mesh hardware, but industry observers said that Ciscos entrance into the space should help expedite the passage of 802.11s, a wireless mesh protocol under development at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Several startup companies already focus solely on mesh networking, mainly for municipal customers.

Tropos Networks Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., is finishing a 400-square-mile mesh network for Oklahoma City and plans to vie for a municipal network contract in Philadelphia, company officials said.

Firetide Inc., of Los Gatos, Calif., this week will announce a deal with Darkhorse Autosport Inc., of Franklin, Tenn., which plans to use a mesh network of video cameras to let fans watch road racing action on the Web via streaming video.

"Its really simple to run, and it allows us to expand that bubble of Internet connectivity anywhere," said Cory Smith, director of Web-enabled technologies for the American Le Mans Series, in Atlanta. "Its not like an oval track, so its a pretty big area that we have to cover."

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