Tropos, Muni WiFi Maker Converts to Smart Grid

troposimageWhat’s a wireless company to do after betting big and failing on the muni Wi-Fi fad — the city-wide wireless that a couple years ago was supposed to offer consumers a cheaper wireless option than the phone and cable companies? What else: Go after the smart grid market, like so many other communication companies these days. On Tuesday, Tropos, one of the poster children of the muni WiFi movement, plans to announce it is packaging up its network technology in a way that will enable utilities to build their own wireless smart grid networks.
It’s basically the same network technology that Tropos has been selling since 2000, but with a different setup and target customer. Instead of cities, Tropos will sell the system to utilities. Tropos’ smart grid network architecture will place about 1-2 routers per square mile (less dense than a city network) that will sit between the meter at a home and the utility control station. The equipment talks to gear from smart-meter makers like Itron (s INC), Elster and Echelon (s ELON).
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Shareholder Activists Take On Web Privacy

A group of seven investment bodies, including the New York City PensionĀ Fund, have teamed up in an effort to get major U.S. Internet service providers to detail their privacy practices through the power of the shareholder resolution. As powers go, shareholder resolutions are far more about bringing change through public relations than via any financial coercion, but sometimes they really work.

The project is called the Open Media and Information Companies Initiative, and the goals of its campaign range from protecting free speech online to getting ISPs to document their network management practices for the public. So far the group has filed shareholder resolutions with the following companies: Read More about Shareholder Activists Take On Web Privacy

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Tofel!

tofelKevin Tofel, co-editor of jkOnTheRun, which joined our little family when he and James merged their wonderful community with ours, married his long-time sweetheart, Barb, this past weekend. Of course, like any blogger worth his social network, the wedding festivities were shared on Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed. And James Kendrick, the “j” in jkOnTheRun, jokes that like all true gadget nerds, Kevin registered at Circuit City. The newlyweds undoubtedly have a brighter future ahead of them than the retailer does. Please join us in wishing the new couple a lifetime of happiness. (And congrats to jk for getting a big plug for their Mobile Tech Roundup Podcast in the UK-based Webuser magazine.)

Wireless Philadelphia: Back From the Dead

Remember the much-ballyhooed Wireless Philadelphia MuniFi networking effort that was going to be the cornerstone of a new EarthLink? The very same network that the Atlanta-based ISP had to abandon because it found itself sinking in financial quicksand? Many of us thought that the network that cost $17 million to build was dead.

EarthLink offered to give away the network for free to the city, but there were political issues that could not be resolved. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumors of its demise might have been greatly exaggerated. Later today, a new investor group will announce that it’s jumping in to save the network at the urging of local politicians, though the plan is to put the network to more governmental use.

The investor group, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, is made up of local money men Derek Pew and Mark Rupp. Pew was once an interim chief executive officer of Wireless Philadelphia; he now runs his own company, Boathouse Communications. Rupp, an ex-Verizon executive, works for Boathouse as well. I will try to update when the official press release comes out.

Meraki Unwires SF’s Neediest

Even if San Francisco’s high-profile, city-wide Wi-Fi network with EarthLink and Google was a fundamental flop, residents of the city that need it the most could still get some free wireless broadband. Meraki Networks, a San Francisco-based startup that makes mesh networking gear is building an ad-hoc San Francisco Wi-Fi network called “Free the Net.” At a press conference on Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Meraki CEO Sanjit Biswas plan to announce a project that includes Meraki’s Wi-Fi networks throughout San Francisco’s affordable housing communities.

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