Tropos Networks recently announced MetroMesh NG, the world’s first meshed multiprotocol picocell system. The new system leverages the patented Tropos MetroMesh OS, including the spectrum and application-based routing engine (SABRE), to provide the low-cost, uniform coverage, symmetrical bandwidth and high capacity required to meet the needs of Web 2.0 mobile Internet devices.

With MetroMesh NG, customers can deploy low-cost picocells on lamp posts using multiple radio protocols – for example mobile WiMAX, Wi-Fi and/or 4.9 MHz – to deliver mobile Internet services to subscribers. These picocells are cost-effectively meshed and backhauled using these radio types in licensed and/or unlicensed spectrum.

Sriram Viswanathan, vice president Intel Capital and general manager WiMAX Program Office explains how picocell Wi-Fi deployment paves the way for WiMAX – “This is an exciting announcement for operators and consumers alike, enabling even better coverage at lower cost. In addition, network operators now have the option of using Wi-Fi and public safety radios with a broad range of service offerings while paving the way to provide additional services using mobile WiMAX.”

Analysis by Tropos Networks shows that a MetroMesh NG picocell system with 20-plus nodes per square mile operating in bands above 2 GHz will provide mobile WiMAX performance of greater than 1 Mbps throughput on more than 95% of client uplinks.

Such symmetrical broadband performance significantly enhances both traditional Internet applications, such as sending e-mail with large attachments, and emerging Web 2.0 applications, such as uploading high-resolution photos and videos to social networking sites.

“Our analysis is conclusive,” said Narasimha Chari, chief architect for Tropos Networks. “Picocells are essential in providing high-speed uplinks and uniform coverage needed for true mobile broadband, no matter what type of wireless technology is used in the network. We are excited to add mobile WiMAX to our ongoing development of industry-leading metro-scale Wi-Fi systems.”

Fully compatible with current Tropos MetroMesh products, the Tropos MetroMesh NG system provides innovative, intelligent integration of mobile WiMAX, 4.9 GHz and Wi-Fi into a picocell network system. Mobile WiMAX can be integrated into the network at the client, mesh and/or capacity injection layers, depending on the strategies of network operators and their subscribers.

Using Tropos’ recently announced SABRE technology, operators can use policy-based routing to dynamically route traffic through unlicensed Wi-Fi, 4.9 GHz, licensed WiMAX or other links based on application, service, priority or other configurable rules.

Using MetroMesh NG, a network operator could use licensed or unlicensed macrocell point-to-multipoint (P2MP) WiMAX for capacity injection, Wi-Fi to connect picocells within the mesh network, to take advantage of the 500 MHz of available unlicensed spectrum, and both Wi-Fi and WiMAX for client connections. This enables the operator to serve the more than 250 million existing Wi-Fi clients immediately while facilitating smooth rollout of WiMAX clients.

The combination of Wi-Fi and WiMAX enables operators to maximize subscriber acquisition and revenues with the best coverage and broadest client appeal.

“MetroMesh NG leverages Tropos’ investment in radio-independent, picocell operating software to deliver the best coverage and capacity for Web 2.0 mobile applications at the lowest capex and opex,” said Ron Sege, president and CEO of Tropos Networks. “In addition, by flexibly combining Wi-Fi, 4.9 GHz and WiMAX, MetroMesh NG enables a broad range of customer benefits, whether it is municipalities deploying metro Wi-Fi systems, public safety agencies taking advantage of 4.9 GHz licenses or licensed mobile WiMAX operators wanting better coverage, symmetry and capacity at lower cost.”

Web 2.0, which refers to the mobile internet access, must be supported with:

- symmetrical up- and downlink data rates
- uniform and ubiquitous coverage
- seamless indoor coverage

All of these requirements can be achieved through the use of picocells. By contrast, macrocell deployment of WiMAX alone cannot support symmetrical data rates because of the very low power levels received by base stations from low-power mobile devices. The weak return signal requires that the modulation complexity be throttled back to avoid data loss, which means that the data throughput must be cutback on the uplink.

In addition, macrocells do not provide uniform coverage nor do they guarantee indoor coverage. In a macrocell topology, there are only one to four base stations per square mile, which enables 1 Mbps to only 25% of the subscribers. On the other hand, there are 20 to 25 picocell base stations per square mile enabling 1 Mbps for more than 95% of the subscribers – a significant difference.

What’s more, picocell topology is less costly because of low-cost base stations, mesh linking (self back-boning), and placement on existing structures, such as lamp posts, street light structures, buildings, etc.

Without picocell topology, Web 2.0 would be severely hampered with many dissatisfied subscribers. Picocell topology is the key enabler to the success of mobile connectivity that offers a plethora of services.

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