Tropos Networks signed its 500^th customer - a milestone in the muni wireless-mesh-growth battle in which Tropos is battling Cisco for the Number One market position.

Win Number 500 is Las Vegas, N.M. - a city of about 15,000 (gee, a single hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., can hold that many) in the foothills of the gorgeous Sangre de Christo mountains. The N.M. mesh is being ordered only for public-safety use at this time. That's fairly usual, but such installations typically don't make the big headlines that public- access muni networks get.

Tropos heralds the win as the capstone to a year in which its node shipments grew by more than 120 percent, comparing the last quarter of 2006 to the quarter a year earlier. The year 2006 also saw 200 new customers out of the 500 total, Tropos adds. The company is predicting higher growth this year, in nodes if not total contracts, as it works on the major Philadelphia and Anaheim muni networks, for which it's the supplier. The company also is widely expected to nail down the contract for Atlanta, where EarthLink recently won the nod for a city franchise (/TelecomWeb news break/, Jan. 26); Tropos has partnered with EarthLink on a string of public access municipal deployments.

The company, citing studies that the number of planned but not-yet-deployed municipal Wi-Fi networks grew from 59 in February 2006 to 135 in September 2006, now says it expects the overall muni mesh market to double in 2007, although the company stopped short of predicting it would see that kind of growth for itself.

"Tropos registered significant growth and completed important deployments in 2006," says Ron Sege, president and CEO. "We completed large, very sophisticated multi-user deployments, such as Corpus Christi, and demonstrated that citywide networks could be rolled out quickly, completing a 23-square-mile system for Kite Networks in Longmont, Colo., in less than 12 weeks."

The company also made public network-utilization statistics from its public-access muni meshes. In a 10-to-15-sq.-mi. city, Tropos typically sees between 20-percent and 25- percent household penetration. It calls that level "on par with DSL plus cable broadband penetration." In a mesh of that size, the company typically sees 1,550 steady daily users and an average of 2,640 users per week.

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