There have been several reports that mesh-based citywide muni wireless installations are underwhelming residents. Writing on GigaOM, Katie Fehrenbacher writes that an Israeli wireless equipment company, InspiAir, says mesh technology is a big part of the problem.
Is he just trying to sell InspiAir’s alternative WiFi software and hardware solutions, or is there any truth at all in his assertion? The poor quality of some MuniFi networks is something which is starting to be discussed, but we always thought it had to do with the limits on WiFi and not the mesh architecture. If there are issues with the mesh architecture itself, that could end up being a startling upset for companies like Earthlink and Tropos, as well as cities that have already committed to these companies. That is if there is any truth in this.
Fehrenbacher talked to WiFi analyst Craig Settles about the alleged limitations of mesh.
WiFi mesh is indeed limited in certain respects. It’s not great for indoor coverage, it is susceptible to interference by devices as basic as microwave ovens, trees and buildings, which can block the signals. The couple of companies that have supposedly better products that overcome these shortcomings are not ones that have made headway in the marketplace.
Leading mesh provider Tropos has clearly been having some problems with their installations. For instance there have been complaints about Google's Mountain View network, which uses Tropos equipment.
Galili said the U.S. is the most advanced in the world when it comes to MuniFi deployments, so I asked him why then is everyone in the U.S. betting on mesh. He says mesh is the incumbent technology and InspiAir is new to the market. That is one strong statement — can he really back it up? Or is he just an easily quotable executive with a good PR team?