Cisco enters the mesh market, meaning it's a competitor in the metro-scale municipal market: With deployments in 2006 clearly involving over $100 million in equipment--and possibly much more--Cisco Systems has jumped into the fray. Their mesh access points have two radios to split front-end access to end-users and backhaul.
Nodes communicate with AES encryption, the default option, and they use Adaptive Wireless Path Protocol, Cisco's name for the technology that finds the most efficient route in the mesh. While they make it sound unique, and it may have unique properties, all mesh systems with intelligence have some form of most-efficient-route methodology. Some hardware that advertises itself as mesh uses just wireless distribution system (WDS), a packet-forwarding technology that was part of the original 802.11b spec, and which has no optimization for routes built in.
There's a single mesh AP model, the Aironet 1500. It's a thin access point that uses the Lightweight Access Point Protocol (LWAPP); the devices self-configure when added to a network. The devices are managed via the Wireless Control System (WCS) which is described as running under Windows and Linux. But Cisco also released a new module type for its large enterprise Catalyst 6500 series of switches: each of the modules can operate handle 300 lightweight APs, or a total of 1,500 per switch that's fully populated with modules devoted to APs.
Cisco has already deployed their new APs in parts of Dayton, Ohio, and Lebanon, Oregon, during testing.
There's coverage all over: News.com, eWeek, Wi-Fi Planet, and Red Herring. Interestingly, several Cisco competitors offered briefings early this week and late last week to reporters, which is why most of these articles have healthy context. Cisco wasn't able to announce in a vacuum, partly due to leaked spec sheets that I saw weeks ago and others, months ago.