For once, an important Wi-Fi standard looks like being settled without a destructive battle between technology rivals.

Two proposals for mesh standards have been merged to create an uncontested standard that will be used in municipal networks and other outdoor wireless projects.

The 802.11s mesh standard working group agreed on a joint proposal at last week's IEEE meeting. Within a year, mesh Wi-Fi devices such as those from Tropos and Strix, could have a unified standard.

"One risk to municipal networks’ early adoption was that at least four major metro-scale mesh equipment vendors are still categorised as startups," said Glenn Fleishman at Wi-Fi Networking News. "A shutdown or change in direction could leave superannuated equipment scattered."

In Fleishman's view, a standard could be the basis for a trade group along the lines of the WiMax Forum, that will create detailed standards for the sub-categories of mesh networking - using single radios or multiple radios (championed by Strix), and using different frequency bands.

There's still a lot of work to do, the IEEE site reminds us, and specialised groups have been looking at security and other issues, but the group expects to make progress at the next IEEE meeting in May and an ad hoc meeting in June.

With this level of agreement to look forward to , mesh equipment vendors are focussing on other issues, layering on the kind of carrier-grade services which municipal networks will need if they want to be used by service providers. "Our focus is to provide tighter integration with some carrier-grade bandwidth management and authentication systems," said Bert Williams, Tropos' director of marketing.