Wireless mesh vendor Strix Systems has opened offices in Europe to sell Access/One, an office-friendly Lego-block style wireless mesh system that has been available in the US for a year.

Strix is best known for its use in city-wide "Wi-Fi cloud" mesh deployments, such as Hermosa Beach in California, which claims to be the first "Wi-Fi city". However, Strix reckons its boxes are versatile enough to compete in the office with wireless switches from the likes of Trapeze and Aerespace. The European market for wireless mesh networks is likely to be different from that in the US (see feature) and Strix is adapting to compensate.

The Strix systems are made up of modules about six inches long. A base unit provides the power and a top unit contains the aerial. In between, users can stack any combination of radio modules, for 802.11a, b and g networks, for access or mesh, as well as a network server module which controls the mesh dynamically.

The units are placed around the area to be networked, and automatically form their own mesh which can be managed from a single point, explained vice president of marketing, Doug Huemme: "The system tunes itself, and decides on the routing and channels to use."

Strix networks are not exclusively mesh, as there are alternative base units with Ethernet - including power-over-Ethernet - to support wired backhaul, or hybrid networks. "Only about fifty percent of our installations are mesh," said Huemme. Customers can put Strix base stations on desks, walls or in ceilings ("we're plenum rated") , and add wired or wireless segments to cover new areas such as the office car-park or patio. The option for mesh will be a big factor in competition with the wireless switch vendors, he said.

Strix modules include AES encryption on the backhaul, and offer features included in Wi-Fi switch systems, such as rogue detection and 802.1x authentication he said. Other options include dual antennae for better coverage, and future modules will include Wi-Max from next year.