Brief: Motorola Offers Exchange Program For Wi-Fi Mesh Gear

The trade-in program lets cities get credit for wireless gear exchanged for Motorola's HotZone Duo products.
Offering municipalities a cure for buyer's remorse, Motorola is running a trade-in program for first-generation muni Wi-Fi gear.

Motorola's offer is a response to the pain felt by early-adopter cities, where a combination of me-too-ism from politicians, Chamber of Commerce enthusiasm, and the salesmanship of mesh Wi-Fi networking providers resulted in pilot deployments that haven't always lived up to billing in performance or community benefits.

While it has watched startups like BelAir Networks, Strix Systems, and Tropos Networks lead the market for municipal mesh deployments, Motorola claims its portfolio of outdoor Wi-Fi networking gear is superior to so-called "first-generation" systems that use one embedded radio. Motorola's HotZone Duo products use two radios, one on the 802.11b/g frequency and one on 802.11a.

It's not clear Motorola's line is superior to gear in the field. But beyond any technological edge, the company is banking heavily on the Motorola name and size to woo nervous municipalities. Chip Yager, director of operations for Motorola's mesh networking group, calls the swap a "face-saving way" to let cities partner with a stable, established provider. We'll see if bigger can deliver better.

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