Wireless network vendor Tropos Network this week announced the availability of a software upgrade designed to improve connection reliability by any client device using its Wi-Fi-based mesh networking equipment.

Dubbed the Adaptive Mesh Connectivity Engine (AMCE), the software to be installed on Tropos MetroMesh routers is designed to ensure connectivity from all client devices, which can differ tremendously, said Bert Williams, Tropos senior director of marketing.

“Clients can be widely variable … That’s part of the attraction of Wi-Fi, but it’s part of the technical challenge, as well,” Williams said. “A lot of times, they’ve optimized for things that are different than what you’d optimize them for to get the best connectivity in a metro Wi-Fi network.”

AMCE dynamically detects and compensates for the characteristics of the Wi-Fi client—including power, timing control and the willingness to search different routers for the best connection—in an effort to achieve the most reliable connection. And maintaining a reliable connection is the most important feature in a Wi-Fi network, both for users and network operators that have to include customer-support units in their budgets, Williams said.

“A lot of people talk about performance, but what we’ve found is that—more than anything—client connectivity matters,” he said. “Client-connection reliability is the biggest user-experience issue in metro Wi-Fi networks today.”

AMCE’s impact has been evident in the citywide Wi-Fi network in St. Cloud, Fla., according to Jonathan Baltuch, president of MRI.

"AMCE significantly improved the reliability of client connections in the St. Cloud network, enabling us to offer an outstanding user experience in St. Cloud's Cyber Spot,” Baltuch said in prepared statement. “In fact, in a recent survey, St. Cloud Cyber Spot users rated the reliability of the city's Wi-Fi network higher than that of their cellular telephone service."

While installing Tropos Metro Compliant Extensions (TMCX) on a client device is still the best way to optimize performance on a Tropos network, the AMCE software upgrade improves performance with all clients in a manner that can be controlled solely by a network operator, Williams said.

“All of this is meshside software; there is no hardware or software configuration that has to be done on the client to gain the benefits of AMCE,” he said.

AMCE is available today and is free to Tropos customers with an appropriate support package, Williams said. Tropos will be releasing another AMCE upgrade near the end of the year, he said.

In addition, Tropos incorporated new client reporting tools in its Insight feature set that lets network operators see usage patterns and types of client devices.

“It also allows you to anticipate problems, so you can correct them in a way that’s invisible to a user,” Williams said.