Wireless mesh-networking vendor Tropos Network today announced a new family of MetroMesh routers that represent the company’s foray into the multiband market.

Traditionally operating in just the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band, the new Tropos 5320 MetroMesh router also includes a 5.8 GHz radio that supports 802.11a connections. With the two radios in the router, network designers have greater flexibility connecting nodes in the mesh, said Bert Williams, Tropos’ senior director of marketing.

“If used efficiently—and that’s the key—it can be used to provide additional capacity to a network,” Williams said. “You can see a 50% increase in performance for a 30% increase in cost.”

Fueled by the technology-independent MetroMesh OS software, the new routers can dynamically determine which radio is best suited to deliver a given packet to its destination. Although the Tropos 5320 that is expected to be available at the end of October adds 802.11a capability, future generations of the router will support wireless technologies such as MIMO, WiMAX, 4.9 GHz and 3G/4G cellular, Williams said.

"Mesh vendors without significant outdoor deployment experience throw a bunch of radios in a box and think they're done," Saar Gillai, Tropos’ vice president of engineering, said in a prepared statement. "Providing affordable capacity in wireless mesh networks is less about the number of radios in the system and more about the efficiency with which the system uses the spectrum those radios access. That's why Tropos has focused, and continues to focus, on enhancing our mesh protocols to make the most efficient use of spectrum, no matter how many radios are in the system."

Tropos also announced the Tropos Metro Wireless Development (TMWD) program, which is designed to help carriers, service providers and others add custom interfaces to MetroMesh routers.