Motorola today announced the last of three new offerings in its municipal mesh-networking portfolio as the vendor giant continues its efforts to make products in the sector more accessible to a broader base of potential customers, including cable companies.

At the core of the new product line is the HotZone Duo, a low-cost, standards-based 802.11 solution featuring radios operating in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, power-over-Ethernet capability, 802.11e quality of service and hop-to-hop encryption. Although officially announced yesterday, the HotZone Duo was displayed at IWCE last month in Las Vegas (see MRT’s exclusive article: “Motorola unveils low-cost mesh product”).

Today, Motorola announced a variant of the HotZone Duo called Cable Mesh, which lets cable operators leverage their existing broadband infrastructures to deploy citywide Wi-Fi access networks, said Rick Rotondo, director of marketing for Motorola’s mesh-networks product group.

“It’s basically the same technology, only it has a built-in hybrid fiber-coax modem in it, so it can be mounted right to the cable infrastructure … and it will get its power and data interface directly from the cable,” he said.

Being beta tested in the city of Apopka, Fla., Cable Mesh will be showcased at the Cable-Tec Expo this week in Denver. Rotondo said he believes cable companies are well positioned to flourish in the wireless broadband market—a noticeable gap in cable firms’ bundled offerings.

“There are three things you need to make a mesh network work, if you are an owner: first, you need to provide backhaul; second, you need to be able to provide power; the third thing you need is have something to mount these devices on,” Rotondo said. “Cable companies have all that stuff in spades.”

For operators using HotZone Duo, Motorola yesterday announced MeshPlanner, a software solution that lets network designers plan and optimize a HotZone Duo network. In addition to simply determining ideal node locations for a given coverage area, MeshPlanner lets the operator input available assets to ensure real-world applicability, Rotondo said.

“If you can mount on certain poles or buildings, you can tell it that. If you have backhaul in certain areas, you can tell it that. It takes all these parameters and builds them into the model,” he said. “So it doesn’t just randomly put down mesh nodes to give you the best coverage. It saves a ton a time, because … in a mesh system, knowing which pole you can mount on makes a big difference.”