Tropos releases a software update for its mesh-networking hardware designed to improve interaction with handheld devices: The company said in a briefing earlier this week that Adaptive Mesh Connectivity Engine (AMCE) tweaks the mesh nodes' approach to dealing with different end-user devices on a packet-by-packet basis without any changes in the client hardware or software. Each packet, Tropos said, can have a different power output level, and can be customized with specific timing and framing characteristics that work best for a given device. The software is available today to Tropos users with support contracts. No hardware changes are needed.
Ellen Kirk, Tropos's vice president of marketing, said quite accurately, "There is no such thing as a standard Wi-Fi client." (It's also true that not all 802.11a/b/g devices are certified Wi-Fi, and thus a "Wi-Fi" device might not be that at all--it might not conform to interoperability standards required by that mark, which makes a "standard Wi-Fi client" an even harder mark to hit.)
The software also mitigates interference by analyzing the radio frequency noise floor and working around that to better "hear" incoming traffic and produce a usable outgoing signal of the right strength.
Later this year, Tropos will release an update that will use another bag of tricks--some of which I have heard of being deployed in enterprise-scale wireless LAN switched networks--that can force clients to associate with particular nodes rather than allowing the client its choice. While this is a hard-wired MAC (Media Access Control) issue that is very dependent on a particular implementation of 802.11 on the client, there are ways that access points can be clever enough to fool the adapter and make it stay put instead of hopping among multiple choices.
Earlier this year, Tropos released a set of extensions (TMCX) for customer premises equipment (CPE) device makers that would allow the CPE to talk to nodes and negotiate parameters and pass reporting and provisioning information. AMCE doesn't require CPE coordination to produce benefits, Tropos executives said, but rather reduces client variability on the network side by adapting to the Wi-Fi client's needs.