Watch out, cable – here comes triple play via wireless mesh

Am I the only one who was almost blown away by this announcement in Japan? NTT West plans to deploy wireless mesh networks in Japan and deliver voice, video and data services to 50 million people. The company is targeting municipalities and corporate enterprises. NTT West will be using equipment from Strix Systems (note: Strix isn’t the only vendor NTT Am I the only one who was almost blown away by this announcement in Japan? NTT West plans to deploy wireless mesh networks in Japan and deliver voice, video and data services to 50 million people. The company is targeting municipalities and corporate enterprises. NTT West will be using equipment from Strix Systems (note: Strix isn’t the only vendor NTT West uses. They also have a contract with Nortel Networks).

Until now most service providers have been content to offer wireless Internet access at 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps based on the assumption that wireless mesh cannot provide enough bandwidth for triple play services. And cable companies, as well as telcos rolling out fiber and IPTV services, have brushed aside any suggestion that mesh networks could ever compete with the their networks. I guess this changes the competitive landscape.

UPDATE (19 October 2006):

Loyal Muniwireless reader, Keiji Takeuchi (senior analyst at Data Resources, Inc. in Japan) points out the following inaccuracies in several versions of the press release circulating outside Japan:

(1) The NTT West press release merely states that they will start providing a “mesh wireless solution”. They didn’t mention “50 million people”. (Japanese)

(2) At present, NTT west doesn’t seem to be eager to enter the municipal wireless market because they focus deploying FTTH. In the FTTH field, NTT West and their competitors (subsidiaries of electric companies) are in fierce competition.

(3) The contract between NTT West and Strix Systems is not exclusive. In the fact, NTT west also made a contract with Nortel.


  1. There seems to be some inaccurate descriptions.

    Here is the press release sent out by NTT west .
    (I hope you can read Japanese!)

    In this release, NTT west merely stated their start of
    providing “mesh wireless solution”.
    They didn’t mention “50 million people”.

    The contract between NTT west and Strix systems
    is not exclusive.

  2. Dick Bruinsma says

    I am a bit confused. The press release only refers to enterprise customers. Do you have more info on the consumer side?

  3. Why is this surprising to anyone with knowledge of what Strix can deploy with their 4 & 6 Radios Mesh Products ?
    When one can deliver 7-10Mbps of access after 6-7 hops (Linear) one can effectively deliver on a great deal of services. On top of that have a spare 802.11g radios on standby/redundant or as a means of extending a 2.4GHz PTP link to a Fixed Customer of the one node.

    “It is the Technology Stupid”
    Industry analysts have been so focused on big name players entering and winning Muni Mesh business on their name alone and others hyping Ad Based Free services which are unproven, while ignoring the Technology and the fact that most of these providers are deploying 1 or 2 Radio mesh systems that will have difficulty delivering a reliable level of bandwidth over time (either backhaul or access) in any design.

    Ask your vendor what bandwidth they will guarantee after 4 Hops (even in a linear format)without regenerating the signal. The 2 Radio systems I have looked at might be able to deliver 3-4Mbps for customer access after 4 hops. That will not survive in any active multimedia market place we all know is coming.

    This is no longer a “download my emails” market. It is a YouTube, MySpace and Multiplayer Gaming markets with VoiceIP services thrown in.
    I want to take my entertainment and Info with me while roaming/mobile.

    Muni-be aware that it is very likely that you will need to step in and save these providers from failing.


  4. Let’s keep this in context, mesh Wi-Fi is not ready to deliver triple-play services vis-a-vis what a cable plant, FTTx, or A/VDSL platform can… not even close. This includes Strix Systems, regardless of their creative license in marketing-speak. This is years away, and the number of lacking features and attributes is nearly countless today. I think the Cable Co’s are safe for now.

    As for Jacomo’s comments — clearly from this and others posts elsewhere he is an employee of Strix or just a fan-boy and has drank too much of Nan Chen’s 10-Hop-Zero-Latency(TM) brand cool-aid.

    The good news is that anyone with any technical accumen realizes that most of these claims are almost too ridiculous to acknowledge.

  5. Considering the extraordinary potential of wireless mesh networks, this announcement doesn’t surprise me at all. What really does surprise me is that more providers have not grabbed this technology and run with it.

    I do share Jacomo’s concerns about the performance of inadequately provisioned networks.

  6. Marty
    Sorry, I am a Service Provider who has tested most of the Mesh Products in the market and have over a year of first hand experience with the Strix Products deployed in my markets. We work with facts and are running a business here, not competing with market hype and promises.
    Interesting: I did note by clicking your name that I go direct to SkyPilot web site. It is unfortunate that you could not provide any constructive or positive insights about the Mesh World or your technology. SkyPilot is a recognized player in the space with a good reputation.


  7. Marty Hahnfeld says

    I have many positive things to say about Wi-Fi mesh and what it’s accomplishing in the wild, also plenty of installations and experience to point at. Further, I appreciate the kind words about SkyPilot.

    That said, I’ll stand by my post… the notion of triple-play services delivery over ANY mesh Wi-Fi platform in the short- to mid-term is just not practical.

    The “news” up top and the reactions it drew (a good example being right here) are misleading. Just look at the headline! Look out cable companies? Wi-Fi mesh triple play is here? Please…

  8. I too have reservations with delivering true Video (TV programming) Services over a WiFi Mesh, with existing 802.11a/g radios. Streaming video and video surveillance over these IP nets however is realistic-tested.
    What I do feel we can do with the WiFi Mesh Design, when combined with both the emerging 802.11n (for Mesh) and WiMAX 802.16 series products (PTMP Broadcast) is deliver very high quality Video services, with QoS/Precedence in either a PTP or PTMP format. .
    This is where a Mesh system that can be upgraded by adding these new radios (note: adding not replacing) to an existing Mesh will dominate the space.
    Will this be comparable to CATV? No, not today but it will address most Mobile/Portable Video streaming services (including MutliPlayer Gaming and P2P links) that will dominate and eventually bring down or severely degrade many of the Mesh systems being deployed today.
    As a service provider delivering a robust scalable network I need a Multi Mesh Node system in order to effectively address my portable/mobile users demands for true Broadband (3-6Mbps) Wireless links as well as my Public Safety folks.
    When we gain access to the 700Mhz and new White Space Spectrum (2009) all bets are off and we will be delivering true CATV quality products over these 2 wireless networks to both the premise (Fixed) and to portable handhelds.


  9. I also have spent a bit of time in the WiFi mesh along with a number of other wireless technologies for delivering public safety communications, high availability backbone networks, and so forth.
    While I agree that today’s WiMesh systems won’t be replacing my HFC connectivity into Comcast’s network anytime soon for delivering my triple play of services, we have to get started somewhere. That’s what I see as the excitement behind the NTT announcement. My expectations for the future are high, but realism of the present is spot on. My same feelings are reflected with Muni Wireless deployments and the early stage of that market, but with tremendous upside.
    BTW, Jacomo. What service provider do you work for? Just curious.