Vendors Looking to Mesh

By Eric Griffith

August 11, 2004

Household names like Nortel and Motorola are getting into the mesh networking business via deals with mesh technology providers for public safety networks.

In separate announcements made this week, both Nortel Networks and Motorola were listed by a couple of makers of mesh networking equipment as the latest household names to jump on the bandwagon to license self-configuring mesh technology for future products.

Motorola -- no stranger to wireless with its Canopy Wireless broadband platform and more recently working with Avaya and Proxim to release an enterprise-specific Voice over WLAN platform -- will be creating products based on the MeshNetworks Enabled Architecture (MEA) from MeshNetworks of Maitland, Fla.

The announcement says the technology will be offered "as part of Motorola's advanced wireless broadband data portfolio for enterprise, utility and public safety." MeshNetworks has several such deployments already, including with the Cocoa Beach Police Department and the Orange County Fire Rescue Department, both in the company's home state.

Motorola will have the right to integrate MEA components including the company's positioning system and software suites for equipment using the 4.9 GHz band that is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for public safety use only.

Nortel, meanwhile, is entering a strategic partnership with Belmont, Calif.-based PacketHop, a company that focuses on solutions used by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Michael Howse, president and CEO of PacketHop, his company has "worked with Nortel to make a joint solution for our customers, looking at metropolitan deployments where they need low-cost backhaul, but also a PacketHop-based network with serverless applications for first responders." Unlike Motorola's licensing of MeshNetwork's technology, Nortel and PacketHop are making sure their individual products -- software to run the mesh, in PacketHop's case -- will interoperate.

PacketHop was recently part of a trial run of various technologies protecting the Bay Area with the Golden Gate Safety Network (GGSN), a coalition of local and federal agencies that protect the Golden Gate Bridge, which has been subject to many threats. In that test, PacketHop software was set up to work with products from 3eTI and Proxim for the wireless infrastructure.

Nortel is no stranger to mesh, as it began experimenting with a mesh network of its own on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) late in 2003. The company's current Wireless Mesh Network portfolio consists of Wireless Access Point 7220, Wireless Gateway 7250, and their Optivity Network Management system.

Howse says Nortel is doing trials of the solution right now. The two companies will work together on marketing and sales, though the partnership is not exclusive for either. Products will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.



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