Tropos Partners Up

After more than 250 deployments worldwide, Tropos Networks of Sunnyvale, California is making things easier for its partners.

The company’s new MetroMesh Partner Program is designed to help third-party providers and equipment makers work with the Tropos MetroMesh equipment used to provide citywide wireless networks. 18 companies are already signed up, many of which have worked with Tropos in the past (such as Boingo, Airpath, Netmotion, Padcom and Pronto Networks).

The company breaks the partners down into two groups — Development partners that integrate products with the MetroMesh, and Solutions partners who don’t integrate but can interoperate.

New Solutions partners include Aptilo, Ecutel, Ellacoya, SmartSynch and Motorola (with its Canopy wireless broadband — which will work with EarthLink on the upcoming deployment of Wireless Philadelphia). The company also announced specific work with companies concentrating on video surveillance: Data911, On-Net Surveillance Systems (OnSSI), Panasonic and Sony.

The meat of the Partner Program is the Development partners who integrate with Tropos. They include Badger Meter, with its ORION automatic meter reading (AMR) system; EDX Wireless’s SignalMX planning tool; gateways from Nomadix; and a brand new customer premises unit (CPE) from Ruckus Wireless.

Ruckus (formerly Video54) has slowly moved from providing simple MIMO-esque smart antenna systems to vendors like Netgear, then to wireless video equipment, then to this CPE, which it calls MetroFlex. The MetroFlex will, naturally, use the company’s patent-pending BeamFlex smart antennas — though on the receiving end this time.

Ruckus’ Vice President of Products, David Logan, says the hardware isn’t just specific to Tropos, but will work with any metro Wi-Fi service — though they will sell this unit, model 2201, to Internet service providers with Tropos-based deployments with tweaks for working better on the MetroMesh, specifically supporting the Tropos API.

“The [Tropos MetroMesh] API allows our development partners to make software for end-to-end solutions with us,” says Ellen Kirk, Vice President of Marketing at Tropos.

The Ruckus CPE won’t be available until January.

In addition to tools from partners, Tropos is introducing two new tools itself. Tropos Insight does data analysis and multimedia optimization that runs remotely, while Tropos Drive is an actual hardware appliance used by network administrators as they physically drive around a Tropos mesh, using it to gather data on the throughput of the network. The SignalMX product from EDX, mentioned above, takes this a step farther as an add-on module to SingalPro which uses topographic maps to see how buildings and terrain can impact signals.

Tropos competitor BelAir Networks also released version 5.0 of its product family, which the company says enhances performance of the “triple-play” (data, voice and video on the same system). BelAir and others differentiate themselves from Tropos by offering products with multiple radios inside. BelAir is also launching a metropolitan network for the city of Waterloo, Ontario (pop. 110,000) through partner Atria Networks, a utility-owned telecom in the province.

The timing of these announcements is probably no accident, as the mesh equipment providers, big players and startups alike, prepare for some competition from the 800-pound gorilla of the wireless networking world, Cisco Systems — which is expected to announce its first mesh equipment plans this week.

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