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Covad Tries Its Hand At Silicon Valley Mesh Network

Starting with the city of San Carlos, the company hopes to revive interest in the floundering Wireless Silicon Valley project.

After months of losing momentum, the effort to build a wireless network that covers Silicon Valley received a boost Tuesday when Covad Communications reported it will deploy a wireless broadband test network in San Carlos.

Covad said it will utilize equipment from Cisco Systems to create a mesh network as part of the Wireless Silicon Valley strategy to judge performance and user experience of a wireless network. Much of the early work on the "Concept City" phase of the ambitious effort to cover Silicon Valley will be centered on San Carlos. In addition, Palo Alto has been selected as a potential early adopter of wireless services.

Covad said it plans to install wireless broadband mesh technology over its existing fixed broadband wireless service in the test. "The Wireless Silicon Valley strategy aligns well with our goal to expand wireless broadband service in Silicon Valley," said David McMorrow, Covad Wireless general manager, in a statement.

Noting that Covad already offers fixed WiMax, pre-WiMax and LMDS wireless networks in Silicon Valley, the company indicated it will be a relatively easy matter to deploy additional wireless services in the area; San Carlos, for instance, already uses Covad wireless products and the municipality's experience with Covad gear provides a point of reference for additional wireless deployments in Silicon Valley.

According to Covad, the test will likely help in evaluating use of the network by small office and home office users, as well as by municipal and other vertical market segments. Mobile users also will be able to use test results to evaluate potential use of the wireless network.

"Covad Wireless has developed a service delivery model that utilizes different wireless technologies," McMorrow said. "By using the advantages of each technology within the test network, we plan to leverage incremental value, achieve lower costs, and ensure higher customer satisfaction."

Scores of companies signed on in 2006 to participate in the build out of Wireless Silicon Valley. Several companies have dropped out of the project. Covad said it will consider expanding the mesh service to other Silicon Valley locations after the test is completed.

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