Inexpensive Options Could Bring More Wireless Players

Look for your cable operator to think about getting into the WiFi market. A company called Tollgrade Communications is hawking a wireless access point that taps directly into the cable operator's fiber backbone, allowing them to turn each of their neighborhood nodes into a wireless transmitter. This could allow cable operators to offer wireless roaming for current subscribers in addition to expanding their reach into the traditional wireless market using existing infrastructure. What remains to be seen is if any cable operators will take the bait and give it a shot.

In a related story, a company called Meraki is offering a cheap wireless repeater powered by solar. The outdoor device runs about $100 and has an option for a solar panel with a battery to maintain power at all times without being on the grid. The range of several hundred feet is respectable and can be boosted up to 10-12km with after-market antennae. This would bring the cost of a grid-connected WiFi mesh to under $10K per square mile, something I imagine most cities looking into WiFi would be grateful for. Could this be what makes WiFi a contender? We'll see.

(See full articles here and here.)

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