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municipal wi-fi

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 10 months ago

Municipal Wi-Fi

 

municipal WLANs

 


 

 

ABI, for example, predicts that 126,000 square miles in America will be covered by WiFi in 2010

 

 

Business models:

 

cities are choosing between two models: using taxes to pay for the network, or bringing in a provider and giving that company control of the network in exchange for build-out and maintenance.

 

 

Within those two broad models, many variations have emerged. From the wideshot view, it appears that the most successful WiFi projects have employed a hybrid approach to funding, rather than putting all the eggs in one basket. And keeping things in the black need not be an either-or proposition; subscriber fees and advertising revenues are other ways to raise funds.

 

when put in perspective, building a WiFi network is not that expensive. City governments regularly shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to build sports arenas, ballparks, and stadiums, yet balk at the much smaller cost (usually measured in tens of millions of dollars) to build and maintain a WiFi network.

 

“When you come down to it, you’re not talking about a lot of money,” Settles said of the cost to build a WiFi network.

 

usage rates are significantly higher when access is free than when it’s subscription-based. For example, in St. Cloud, where users pay no fee, usage rates are close to 80 percent. By contrast, in Tempe, Arizona, where access is provided through subscription from MobilePro, usage rates are only about 15 percent.

 

 

- more information about commercial hotspots

 

 

local advertising

 

advertising: when you log on to the service, you see an ad. Often these ads are very local, for businesses within range of the nearest signal source. That produces great opportunities for advertising services for small businesses that otherwise would never consider marketing online: local restaurants, dry cleaners, finacial advisors, or car dealers can communicate with potential customers who are right there in the neighbourhood. Try that with TV or local radio.

 

In the US, a hotspot and advertising company called JiWire now plans to offer ad-supported Wi-Fi through a relationship with Ultramercial. The ads will appear prior to gaining free Internet access at hotspots. To avoid the initial ads you can simply pay a small fee to get online.

 

Of the 176 business owners surveyed, 57% say they won't be interested in buying Wi-Fi network ads. While the rest are more open to the idea, 45% of them say they'd only be willing to pay less than $100 per month for the ads. Chances are, it will take a long time to get to even $100, as, before they pay up, advertisers will want to see these networks reach critical mass of users.

What this means: To maintain and operate their Wi-Fi networks, cities are bound to look for alternative funding sources, to supplement advertising. Chances are, they will start charging user fees. While, today, most cities dream of free Wi-Fi networks, that will likely remain just that -- a dream.

 

 

should it be free?

 

Why should I expect to get free utility services? What's next free water? Free electricity? How about free housing? Sounds like utopian thinking to me

 

 

Digital divide

customers might not have computers or wifi cards in older computers:

 

For such residents to benefit from WiFi, the city may need to provide the necessary equipment, representing another layer of cost that may not be apparent when the planning process begins.

 

“Some of the municipalities are offering access for a very nominal fee, but subsidizing equipment to lower income households,”

 

 

Billing system costs

 

So far, Vos said, most cities are sticking to the traditional bill-for-access model. But, while she acknowledges that something has to generate cash for network upkeep, bill-for-access will become less common in the future.

 

"If you believe the of the network value lies in the number of people using it, then your incentive is to make sure everyone is on it," she said. And the best way to do that is provide free access.

 

Plus, eliminating fee-for-access also eliminates the costs associated maintaining a billing system, Vos added.

 

A subscription service model adds significant costs to an overall solution from the perspective of society. It requires the creating and managing systems and organizations to handle customer relationships. It costs a lot of money to install and maintain billing and collections, track and enforce service level agreements (SLAs), market and sell services, manage and provide benefits for all the additional personnel required for these functions.

 

Multiple levels of service and paid subscription services degrade network performance. Technical solutions have to be layered onto the network to segment traffic, rate limit users according to their paid tier of service, monitor SLA performance. A wholesale model requires staff to negotiate and manage wholesale customer relationships, interconnections with wholesale customer service provider networks, systems integration between the network provider and its wholesale customers, wholesale billing, collections, accounting, audit, SLA enforcement.

 

All of those additional elements add unnecessary complexity and cost to the overall network and much of the additional money taken from subscribers for those purposes goes elsewhere, to corporate operations, staff and investors elsewhere, rather than staying in a municipality for the benefit of the local economy. From the perspective of society, profit is also an unnecessary expense with a subscription-services solution, and that money also typically leaves and does not benefit the local economy.

 

 

 

Selling online ads

 

it isn't always clear from the offset--unless proper research is done--whether the local business community will buy enough ads. Some companies, for example, may simply not be interested in online advertising. Others may commit initially only to small purchases, waiting to see whether or not the ads are worthwhile.

 

Before building a WiFi plan around expected ad revenue, Settles advised city governments to survey their local businesses communities to find out whether or not they will buy online ad space. The information gathered from this type of survey will serve as an indicator of how much funding realistically can be raised through ads.

 

Settles added that ad campaigns take monetary resources too--to sell, create and deliver the ads.

 

 

idea

AT&T and Comcast buy access to Earthlink's service, then provide it free as an incentive to keep existing customers and lure new ones. I suspect the two companies could negotiate a bulk rate with Earthlink that would allow them to write it off as a promotional cost. Subscribe to DSL or cable-modem access at home, and get anywhere access throughout the city of Houston! I'm a Road Runner customer, but if AT&T offered that as part of its DSL package, I'd consider jumping ship in a heartbeat. To keep me, Road Runner would likely want to offer a similar deal.

 

Keys to success:

 

In determining specs and goals for the network, Hanley listed the following recommendations:

 

1. Use certified equipment to ensure the best possible user experience.

2. Set realistic expectations for citizens regarding what the network will be able to offer.

3. Build a robust enough network to ensure that users get a good experience.

4. Plan to invest in keeping the WiFi network viable once it is built.

 

Need to create a good customer experience

 

For example, Corpus Christi has citywide WiFi -- a network built by the city and recently bought by Earthlink. I was there recently, and my experience with a WiFi node just a few hundred feet from my parents' home was not good. I had to walk outside, and that doesn't bode well -- although I did not try other areas of the city, and this was a new access point that may not have been working properly.

The experience in Houston needs to be as simple as opening up a notebook computer, turning it on and then getting a strong, reliable signal without much fuss. Yes, there will probably need to be a browser splash page where users will sign in, but that should be the only hoop through which they need to jump. Requirements of additional software, or repeated sign-ons after inactivity timeouts, will ruin the experience. If it feels like access via bureaucracy, users will log off in droves.

 

 

 

 

Market

 

building a wi-fi network is a steal compared with laying cable, which can cost 10 times as much

 

City wireless is set to become a $1.2 billion market by 2010, according to analyst firm ABI Research; AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel spin-off Embarq are looking to cash in, snapping up their own municipal deals in places like Springfield, Ill., and Riverside, Calif. And Comcast Ventures has invested in BelAir Networks, a Canadian vendor of wireless equipment.

 

Technology

 

In metropolitan areas, when a widespread wireless local area network (WLAN) deployment is an objective, the solution frequently deployed is known as wireless mesh. The name is indicative of the way in which wireless mesh networks differ from traditional WLANs in that with wireless mesh, the equipment that acts as the node or access point has the ability to communicate with the network's other nodes--forming a mesh--to determine a signal's path. That path ultimately leads back to a single, high-speed connection to the Internet. This technology has been a logical choice for cities and towns that want to provide ubiquitous Internet access, and high-profile deployments in Philadelphia, PA and Tempe, AZ have made business headlines

 

 

 

 

Equipment providers

Motorola

 

 

Mesh technology

 

The most commonly chosen method to deploy a citywide WiFi network, Settles told TMCnet, is to set up “a bunch of access points that are very similar to the WiFi that you have in your home, except they're access points on steroids.”

 

For every x number of access points (depending on how the network is used) there is a gateway that aggregates the data and sends it to a major collection point, and then out to the Internet, he explained.

 

This type of deployment is referred to as a “mesh” network.

 

Mesh networks are the most common type because they’re low-cost. The fixed access points are relatively cheap, and chips embedded in mobile devices to provide access cost about $5 a pop.

 

Settles noted that, in a city the size of Seattle (217 square miles, greater area population of 3.4 million), it might cost $10-$15 million to create a mesh network. Cost depends on how the network will be used, and the geography and demographics of the city (building density, number of users, usage peaks, etc.)

 

Another reason mesh is so popular is that it works very well in city areas, Settles told TMCnet. Physical structures are needed to mount the access points on, and in cities there are plenty of buildings and lamp-posts to fill that need.

 

But, the more spread-out structures are, the more difficult it gets to create a working mesh network.

 

 

Meshing is a method of increasing WiFi signal range by using access nodes as repeaters—each one carrying the signal a bit further until it reaches the destination. This type of setup is most often discussed in relation to municipal wireless network deployments, but it has other applications as well.

 

2006, but In-Stat expects unit shipments of mesh access points to exceed 50,000. The firm also predicts that shipments will reach 100,000 by 2010

 

relatively inexpensive, and very reliable and resilient, as each node need only transmit as far as the next node. Nodes act as repeaters to transmit data from nearby nodes to peers that are too far away to reach, resulting in a network that can span large distances, especially over rough or difficult terrain. Mesh networks are also extremely reliable, as each node is connected to several other nodes. If one node drops out of the network, due to hardware failure or any other reason, its neighbours simply find another route. Extra capacity can be installed by simply adding more nodes. Mesh networks may involve either fixed or mobile devices. The principle is similar to the way packets travel around the wired Internet — data will hop from one device to another until it reaches a given destination.

 

The choice of radio technology for wireless mesh networks is crucial. In a traditional wireless network where laptops connect to a single access point, each laptop has to share a fixed pool of bandwidth. With mesh technology and adaptive radio, devices in a mesh network will only connect with other devices that are in a set range. The advantage is that, like a natural load balancing system, the more devices the more bandwidth becomes available, provided that the number of hops in the average communications path is kept low. Additional information by can be seen at the original patent description for mesh wireless networks at http://www.delphion.com/details?&pn=WO09608884A1 giving the mesh technology designs.

 

There are three distinct generations of wireless mesh products today. In the first generation one radio provides both backhaul (packet relaying) and client services (access to a laptop). In the second generation, one radio relayed packets over multiple hops while another provided client access. This significantly improved backhaul bandwidth and latency. Third generation wireless mesh products use two or more radios for the backhaul for higher bandwidth and low latency. Third generation mesh products are replacing previous generation products as more demanding applications like voice and video need to be relayed wirelessly over many hops of the mesh network

 

 

 

Street lights

 

Sacramento, Calif., learned the hard way that a city should first check whether it has gang-switched streetlights or streetlights using light-level sensor technology before releasing an RFP, said Stephen Ferguson, the city's CIO. Light-level sensors individually power streetlights, keeping electricity in the poles 24 hours a day. Gangswitched streetlights ? thus called because a single switch controls several lights ? are only powered at night.

 

Wi-Fi antennas can't operate on a gang-switched streetlight during the day without expensive alterations to the pole or antenna. Sacramento officials didn't know most of the city's streetlights were gang-switched, Ferguson said.

 

"We didn't ask the Street Department because I didn't know the difference between gang-switched and light-level sensor-switched," Ferguson said. "We basically said it was up to the vendor to determine any issues with using the city streetlight poles."

 

The oversight added roughly $2 million to MobilePro's infrastructure costs.

 

Once a WiFi network is in place, the access points and other equipment involved will need to be maintained. As time goes on—as technologies and the physical layout of cities change—new equipment may need to be added or existing equipment moved around

 

Bringing WiFi indoors

 

 

Bringing WiFi inside buildings involves what's called customer premises equipment (CPE)--signal boosters that allow WiFi to penetrate walls. That's how hotspots in malls, for example, are created.

 

CPE is an affordable and workable way to bring municipal WiFi deployments indoors, Settles said.

 

In fact, some service providers tapped to create or maintain mesh networks give away CPE as a way to streamline a municipal WiFi deployment. It's easier (and cheaper, in terms of technical support) for all the buildings involved to be using equipment that the service provider knows how to set up and maintain.

 

 

Some networks haven't met expectations, providing spotty service, weak connections or signals that users can't access indoors. One of the most common complaints from users in other cities, including Corpus Christi, is that they can't get a signal indoors. Solving the signal problem Since networks are built outside, signals bounce between hundreds of access nodes, located on top of light poles, and base stations on building rooftops. The signal may be strong for a user sitting in a park with a laptop, but beams often can't penetrate building walls. A wireless modem or a device called a repeater, which enhances the indoor signal, usually will solve the problem at a cost of about $100 . About one-third of users need one of these to prevent spotty service, Berryman said, so EarthLink provides one free to subscribers who sign a one-year contract. The modem EarthLink provides now can be used only for one computer, but the device the company expects to distribute to Houston users will repeat the signal for several computers.

 

 

Although WiFi's limitations mean indoor access to the city network is going to be poor at best, Earthlink is going to provide repeaters for those who subscribe to its service. Hopefully, its resellers will do the same.

 

Issue - if you wholesale your service to resellers, you need to make sure they also offer the repeaters /equipment at decent cost (or free). At least,they should have the same "rent" program.

 

 

Speed issues

 

the speed capabilities of the network must be carefully planned for and upgraded as need be. Else, users may simply write it off as outdated technology.

 

"One pitfall I see is cities not pushing for higher bandwidths," she said. Most seem stuck at 1 Mbps, which is too slow to deliver some services. Why should this be? As usual, it comes down to money. "The price of bandwidth in the United States is much higher than in Japan," she said. The cost of backhaul seems a likely reason why cities aren't looking at faster speeds.

 

So how fast is fast enough? That depends on what people are using the network for. Hanley said that, if most people are using the network for e-mail, bandwidth probably won’t be an issue. But if they are using it to beam media for one device to another—such as photos from a desktop computer to a TV—lower levels of bandwidth could be prohibitive.

 

anything less than 3 Mpbs is short-sighted because video is hot and will only get hotter in the future. “You can’t do mobile video with crappy bandwidth,” she said.

 

 

If you can believe it the US Government considers 200Kbps broadband. This is quite sad considering you’d have a heck of a time doing any moderate multimedia on 200K, let alone the now standard YouTube or music streaming and you can forget using VOIP or something like Joost. I realize my mileage is far from normal, but I’ve got a 30MB / 5MB connection at home, and since moving to a cable modem about 7 years ago, have never had less than 1MB down (ISDN before that at 112kpbs) and actually been more at the 3+ level. As soon as my cable provider offers a faster tier, I buy it. Quite a few cities are being sold and implementing 1MB or 1.5MB networks which is very average. I recognize there’s massive cost to invest here, but think of the long term plan and not just the next election term… what happens when a few thousand people all use a 1MB connection… I think local governments can count on unhappy tax payers.

 

 

 

Wi-Fi enabled devices (cell phones, palm, blackberry, etc)

 

 

 

One advantage of dual-mode handsets is the ability to use a WiFi hotspot for downloading media faster than is possible over a cellular network. At the high end, Hanley said, cellular modems offer speeds in the 500 Kbps range. That can be compared to 25-50 Mbps WiFi potentially can deliver.

 

 

 

Dual-Mode Phones - Nokia is a major force to be reckoned with here if A) People recognize that they can buy these things without a carrier and B) can afford them. There are not too many manufacturers cranking out WiFi enabled cellphones that can also do VOIP. When you are in the network, you can switch to SIP with TruPhone or Gizmo and make free calls. If I had a municipal network to connect on, I’d be all over this… between my N80i, N93 and N800 Tablet, I’ve got 3 options to be making and receiving calls for free. There are of course quite a few Skype and SIP capable phones that would be quite excellent to have in your pocket if you went out for the day in a muni-network

Hanley noted that the increasing number of people who use portable devices, such as laptop computers and converged handsets, is a key growth enabler for the WiFi industry. Dual-mode handsets are an interesting example of how portability and WiFi are intersecting to increase bandwidth demands.

 

As I noted earlier, I have a number of WiFi devices - phones, my Nokia tablet, a Nintendo DS and a PSP. They all connect differently and not all of them have browsers that are allowed to connect and authenticate. None of them have IE, which seems to be the system integrators browser of choice. While on the topic… if the networks are designed for public usage, please openly enable that purpose, or state clearly what you already know won’t work. Don’t block UDP ports and VOIP services, just to block them as (ahem) our hotel did in Dallas. There are always work-arounds for those savvy enough to want to hack a bit.

 

 

 

Other technologies - WiMAX

 

WiMAX

 

 

Telcos and ISPs

 

big companies like AT&T have an established subscriber base for Internet access in any given city, and are leery of any project that might introduce significant competition.

 

in us: Big telcos such as Verizon and AT&T, having first tried to fend off wi-fi in state legislatures, have also joined the battle to own and operate these systems.

 

Low-cost or no-cost wi-fi is a potent competitive threat to cable companies and telcos, which spent billions building out systems. That's why these industries mounted a furious lobbying attack, pushing through restrictive legislation in 14 states, including Pennsylvania and Louisiana, to stop towns from constructing their own networks and charging a fee

 

Going head to head with the telcos is EarthLink http://www.earthlink.net/muni . , a big player in dial-up but a company that was falling behind in broadband because of the high prices cable companies charged for access to the network. EarthLink (projected 2006 revenues: $1.3 billion) is banking on muni wi-fi to grow sales, closing deals with seven cities in public-private partnerships. EarthLink owns and operates the network while the city contributes money or light poles to nest radios for connectivity. The company will cut costs by selling access to wholesale providers like DirecTV. EarthLink is a market leader in the deployment of citywide, municipal wireless networks. The company has major WiFi initiatives underway in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Alexandria, Virginia and Milpitas and Anaheim, California. It is also finalizing agreements with the cities of Pasadena and San Francisco, California. Earlier this week, the ISP was selected by Houston to build out the Texas city's wireless network.

 

As part of the company's commitment to open access, EarthLink will enable multiple providers, such as People PC ( http://www.peoplepc.com ), Vonage ( http://www.vonage.com ) and DirecTV ( http://www.directv.com ) to offer its Internet service to consumers and businesses over its network. For small businesses, St. Petersburg's wireless network will also provide an alternative for broadband connectivity, such as affordable fixed wireless solutions.

 

Companies like MetroFi, which is committed to 13 cities, including Portland, Ore., are betting that complimentary, ad-supported access will attract enough users to turn a profit. Then how about free? It worked for Yahoo! and Google.

 

 

 

Cities experiences in the US:

Houston

 

Houston will contribute city assets such as light poles and other property, for which EarthLink will pay a leasing fee. Lewis estimates that EarthLink will invest between $40 million to $50 million in Houston. They are required to open up access to other Internet service providers and the wholesale rate cannot exceed $12 per month for the first seven years. The coverage is 640 square miles and they are setting June 2009 as the target date for full deployment. EarthLink expects to install 15,000+ nodes, one-third of which are gateway nodes.

 

Houston's project, which still needs City Council's approval, would not be funded with tax money, but by EarthLink itself. The company's $50 million initial investment is a big part of why EarthLink executives say the city can count on them to provide quality service -- their profit depends on it.

After EarthLink completes the 600-square-mile blanket, it plans to sell access to Internet service providers at a wholesale rate of $12. Those intermediaries would then add a profit margin and sell the product to residents and businesses. EarthLink, too, would play the role of an ISP, selling monthly subscriptions for $22. For EarthLink to get a return on its investment, it must provide a product that other service providers and users will want.

 

 

Revenues from Government

The city will be an anchor tenant on the network, paying EarthLink $500,000 per year at a minimum, but Lewis expects this amount to rise as the city uses the network more intensively for municipal applications: traffic signals, parking meters, police and fire departments (building plans, surveillance, etc.), network redundancy during natural disasters, work order completion and update, and meter reading for utilities similar to Corpus Christi's meter reading project.

 

Digital inclusion in Houston

EarthLink will pay city 3% of all subscriber gross revenue on an annual basis to be used for digital inclusion programs and defray city’s program management expense. In addition, EarthLink will charge $4 per month (for renting the CPE -- this is the digital inclusion rate) to low-income families to make access more affordable

 

Funding of the project

 

one of the city's key considerations for choosing EarthLink over Convergent, the other bidder, was the manner in which EarthLink would finance the network deployment costs. EarthLink will be using cash to fund the network, whereas Convergent was going to fund it using mostly debt. In addition, EarthLink has issued a $5 million letter of credit for this project.

 

 

Corpus Christi, TX

The city undertook the project in 2003 as it investigated how to improve meter reading procedures, then scaled it larger as the city continued to identify municipal applications, including public safety, building inspections and other uses by city departments. Private partners on the project included Intel, Northrop Grumman, Sprint, and Tropos Networks.

 

Business model - corpus christi, tx

 

Corpus Christi, Texas, adopted a publicly funded model for its widely admired citywide Wi-Fi network. The city's smaller size forced it to pay the infrastructure costs, requiring $7.1 million on top of nearly half a million dollars in annual maintenance costs. Naturally the advantage is that Corpus Christi owns the network and completely controls the network's direction.

 

After setting aside 40 percent of the bandwidth for mobile applications designed to streamline agency functions, the city chose to lease the remaining 60 percent to ISPs. The resulting revenue will pay for the network's startup and maintenance costs, and possibly turn a profit

 

Northrop Grumman, the city's Wi-Fi vendor

 

He also noted that the citywide network gives local dial-up providers a chance to offer Wi-Fi-based services at a time when dial-up demand is vanishing. Since the network already exists, any provider wanting to transition to offering Wi-Fi-delivered Internet services would bypass the expensive network infrastructure costs normally involved.

 

"Estimates are, in the next three to five years, those folks will be out of business if they don't find some other technology," Scott said. The providers can sell Wi-Fi Internet services and make a better profit. "There is no overhead," he added. "They buy it. They resell it. All they've got to do is support their customers because they didn't have to build an infrastructure first."

 

Problem - free model doesnt leave money to help maintain and upgrade network

 

Corpus Christi, where city government built a 147-square-mile network with tax dollars and offered it free to residents. That city now is preparing to contract with EarthLink to maintain the $7 million network and sell access to residents and businesses

 

 

Boston

 

Boston is densely populated enough to attract a privately funded Wi-Fi network but recently opted for the public model. Beantown preferred a model that would let several providers share the network and compete against each other

 

The Boston Wireless Initiative will likely form a nonprofit organization, separate from city government to fund the project, said Mark Horan, consultant to the initiative. Community organizations and corporations would supply most of the funding rather than taxpayers.

 

Horan said Boston doesn't plan to subsidize Wi-Fi access for low-income citizens. The city's Wi-Fi nonprofit couldn't afford to fund a service speed that was worthwhile for lowincome citizens, he explained, and offering substandard services to those citizens would certainly not close the digital divide. Horan added that subsidies would ultimately raise prices for paying users.

 

He said an inexpensive rate for a desirable speed generated by the market would be a more practical way to bridge the digital divide than politically and financially treacherous subsidies.

 

San Francisco, California

 

Some cities are embracing an experimental advertising model for free citywide Wi-Fi access. In this case, the vendor offers free Wi-Fi to anyone in the city willing to endure a 1-inch advertising banner constantly at the bottom of the screen. Some vendors claim the resulting ad revenue will recoup their infrastructure costs and produce a profit. They boast of guaranteeing online visibility for ad clients because the user looks at those ads no matter where he or she travels on the Internet.

 

San Francisco accepted an offer from Google and EarthLink to install and pay for a citywide Wi-Fi infrastructure. Google would provide the free ad-funded service, while EarthLink would contribute the infrastructure and regular fee-based services for those wanting to skip the ads and have a faster connection.

 

San Francisco’s budget analyst estimates that a ubiquitous San Francisco Wi-Fi network could be built and operated for one year for $6-$10 million. Ongoing maintenance and operations might cost $2 million a year, and equipment/technology replacement might add another $1.5 million annually. That’s less than $30 per household one time ($10,000,000/360,000 households) and less than $10 per year per household for ongoing operations, maintenance and technology upgrades – for an outdoor solution that could equally serve all citizens and guests all year much better than dial-up services! That’s an incredibly cheap and efficient use of public Wi-Fi spectrum, and it overestimates the costs and does not count the benefits of a truly public network.

 

 

 

 

 

Portland, Oregon

 

Also going for ad-based business model

 

Portland, Ore., released an RFP for its Wi-Fi network in 2005, expecting the winning vendor to offer free Internet service in just a few select spots in the city. Portland also asked for a "walled garden" arrangement, which would allow all citizens free Wi-Fi access to 20 Web sites of the city's choice.

 

MetroFi, a venture capital-backed ISP, offered Portland the citywide advertisingfunded model and won the contract. Construction is under way, and the vendor will complete two square miles for testing by early 2007, said Logan Kleier, project manager for the Portland Wireless Initiative. "Once that's finished, tested and approved by the city, then MetroFi will build out to the rest of the city, finishing by mid-2008," Kleier said. "MetroFi thinks it will finish sooner."

 

The free service, advertising model may sound enticing, but "free" often comes at a price. Normally when you lose your Internet connection, you call technical support. MetroFi's free Wi-Fi services don't include phone support. Kleier said the company would set up an online forum for users to trade advice on how to fix connection difficulties and other service problems. It seems fair to note, however, that users might have trouble participating in this online forum while disconnected.

 

Portland users wanting to bypass the advertising banner and help forum can purchase services from MetroFi for $20 per month, a deal that includes telephone technical support.

 

 

The Portland Wi-Fi deployment faced a few major difficulties however. The city does not own its public utility, and MetroFi had to negotiate power rates with Portland General Electric (PGE).

 

PGE had a minimum rate that would have charged MetroFi for far more power than its antennas used, Kleier said. The utility eventually agreed to file a new tariff that would bill the city at a rate closer to the antennas' power usage. MetroFi would then reimburse the city for paying that bill.

 

Portland, Oregon project where MetroFi was selected as the provider, but then had one of its capital venture supporters (Sevin Rosens) pull out last fall. Settles noted that MetroFi underwote the Portland project with an ad-driven business model, which he worries won’t be enough for sustainability without the backing of Sevin Rosens, especially given that the provider is a small company and has several WiFi projects going on the West coast. “If a company starts to go south, a venture capitalist is going to cut its losses,” Settles said shortly after the pull-out was announced. “Clearly, Sevin Rosens is saying that there’s no future here.”

 

Maybe no future in that particular project, but that hardly should be an indictment of all WiFi projects. Vos brushed aside concerns that the Portland network might eventually go under, since AT&T is now involved and will keep it going because it has a vested interest in making things work out. Hanley echoed that sentiment with her opinion that, although the Portland project may have taken some twists and turns, it is hardly indicative of a larger trend. After all, she said, the WiFi industry is one that, in a few years, is expected to ship half a billion units annually. “This is not a fad,” she said. “This is a very popular and proven technology. It’s very cost-effective.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sacramento, Calif.

 

is on its second attempt at an advertising-based, citywide Wi-Fi network.

 

Before Portland's MetroFi contract, Sacramento accepted a proposal in 2005 from MobilePro, an ISP offering Wi-Fi at 56 Kbps and free service for two hours a day. Later, the vendor rescinded its offer when Sacramento officials demanded additional terms and conditions they began seeing in other citywide advertising-funded Wi-Fi contracts.

 

MobilePro said it couldn't do a financially viable advertising model under those demands, according to Sacramento CIO Stephen Ferguson, who added that MobilePro tried saving the deal by requesting that Sacramento commit to buying more than $1 million in Wi-Fi services annually, but the City Council declined.

 

"As time went on, and we saw other deals happening, the City Council got a clearer picture of what they really wanted," Ferguson said. "When we issued the new RFP after MobilePro withdrew, we were very specific, unlike the first time where we just said, 'We want Wi-Fi. Tell us what you can do.'"

 

Craig Settles, an IT analyst based in Oakland, Calif., opposes the advertising model, doubting its business viability. Publicity expenses, he said, and networkrelated building and maintenance costs create too much overhead.

 

"You have to build a $7 million to $10 million network," Settles said. "That requires a lot of ad money to generate that kind of revenue. Then you have to support and sustain the network, which runs you about 10 to 20 percent of the cost of building it out. If you build out a network for $10 million, you've got to raise $1 million a year for ongoing support and upgrades."

 

 

 

 

Greenville, North Carolina

 

downtown Wi-Fi hotzone: The size of the coverage area is 1.3 square miles (3.3 square kilometers). It encompasses City Hall and the Pitt County Courthouse. This area is home to many businesses and the town commons where concerts are held in the spring and summer.

 

If the city decides to roll out a network that covers the entire community the area of coverage will be 31 square miles (80 square kilometers), and the initial cost estimate is approximately $2.5 million. The cost of the test bed is $51,000. It utilizes an existing Internet connection of 6mb down and 1mb up. The systems integrator/ISP is WindChannel out of Raleigh, NC and they are installing a Nortel Networks solution using 7220 access points and a 7250 centralized controlle

 

Florida

 

St. Cloud, Florida

 

A better model, Vos suggested—and one that is gaining traction in smaller cities—might be for the municipality to spend its own money to build the network, and then hire a wholesaler to provide service and make upgrades. The wholesaler then opens the network up various providers that want to offer broadband service in the area.

 

An example of this model is St. Cloud, Florida, where the city paid for the network and brought in a company to manage it. Access is provided free to anyone within range of the network.

 

St. Cloud's network spans 24 square miles and is available to all users in the city free of cost. After 6 months, 77% of the cities inhabitants had registered for the service.

 

Coverage: 24 square miles, Expected completion: Done, Cost to build: $3 million, Vendor: Hewlett-Packard, Cost to users: None

 

St. Petersburg , Fl

 

Feb. 15, 2007 St. Petersburg came one step closer to becoming one of the first major cities in Florida to offer a citywide wireless broadband network. City Council on Thursday accepted a proposal from EarthLink, Inc. (NASDAQ: ELNK) for the internet service provider to build, own and operate a 60 square mile WiFi network, at no cost to the city.

 

staff can now enter into contract negotiations with EarthLink, Inc. As stated in the company's bid, EarthLink, Inc. will build out the network at a cost of approximately $6.8 million. Over the course of the contract, the company anticipates making a total investment of $9.3 million in the maintenance of the network, which it will recover through a monthly subscription charged to residents, businesses and other organizations or an hourly charge to occasional users.

 

Of the state's 10 largest cities, St. Petersburg will become the first to offer a citywide wireless broadband network. As part of its proposal, EarthLink has committed to locate its Gulf regional distribution office in St. Petersburg.

 

 

 

 

 

more Florida

 

Functioning projects: Cocoa Beach, Daytona, Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale, Gulf Breeze, Manalapan, Monticello, North Miami Beach, Panama City, St. Cloud

 

Projects under development or consideration: Adventura, Boyton Beach, Deltona, Dunedin, Homestead, Key West, Lakeland, Mariana Key, Miami Beach, Miami Dade County, Palm Bay, Tallahassee, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Winter Park, Winter Springs

 

 

Philadelphia

 

Coverage: 135 square miles; early phase spans 15 miles. Expected completion: Early phase operational in fourth quarter; to be expanded in 2007. Cost to build: About $60,000 per square mile. Vendor: EarthLink. Cost to users: None for low-bandwidth services and for broadband access in parks and some public areas; $9.95 to $20 a month for paid subscriptions

 

 

 

Philadelphia was the first large metropolis to pursue a citywide Wi-Fi network. Wireless Philadelphia, the city-created nonprofit organization charged with implementing the network, accepted an offer from EarthLink to build the infrastructure for free. EarthLink will be the sole ISP on the network.

 

Philadelphia created a government-supported nonprofit to oversee EarthLink's 135-sq.-mi. system, which should be ready next October and will emphasize digital inclusion programs like half-price accounts for low-income residents. Subscriptions will be $21.95, about half the cost of DSL and cable (a bit pricier), with some free access downtown.

 

"We've got a pretty good arrangement that shifts the financial burden and the risk to a private company, but ensures through strong agreements and the presence of a nonprofit partner that we achieve our civic, public and social mission," said Greg Goldman, CEO of Wireless Philadelphia. EarthLink agreed to start paying Wireless Philadelphia 5 percent of its profits after the third year of the project's life. The company will also offer below market price Internet service accounts to qualifying lowincome users. Regular users will pay $20.95 per month while select low-income users pay $9.95 for the same quality of service, Goldman said.

 

IT analyst Craig Settles derides the private model as a municipal copout. He argues that a city can only ensure a Wi-Fi network fully benefits citizens if the city itself controls the network. A private-sector ISP would prioritize its shareholders' wellbeing before that of the city as a whole, Settles explained.

 

Goldman said he couldn't deny the benefits of a city-owned network, but he countered that the Philadelphia arrangement has mechanisms to protect city interests.

 

"It's not like Philadelphia just went forward and said, 'Here, EarthLink; here are the keys to the city ? have at it,'" Goldman said. "There is a very strict network agreement and series of agreements between Philadelphia, its agents, Wireless Philadelphia and EarthLink to ensure that this network meets the objectives of the city."

 

Philadelphia budgeted only $10 million to WiFi enable the whole city, with ongoing costs of about $1 million a year. That's a small price to pay compared with the potential benefit to small businesses, learners, and government.

 

 

 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

As a middle ground, Milwaukee is combining elements of the Philadelphia plan with aspects of the Corpus Christi model. Midwest Fiber, a private broadband provider, is paying to build Milwaukee's network, but only to lease it to several competing ISPs. Milwaukeeans won't pay a dime to build the infrastructure but will still get a slew of competing service provider choices.

 

Hartford, Connecticut

 

the Mayor decided to offer WiFi free for the first few months. After that, citizens will get 20 hours of free access, and then will need to pay a nominal fee—about $12-$17 per month—to use the service. Revenue also will be generated from advertising sources.

 

Hartford’s model illustrates that, once a network is up and running, multiple sources of funding may be used to support it.

 

Pilot program: With the new network in place, 5,000 homes and more than 75,000 people in downtown Hartford, as well as in the Blue Hills area will have free unlimited access to the Internet through March, as part of the initial pilot rollout. Users will only have to pay a fee if they exceed 20 hours of usage a month. City residents will also be able to sign up for unlimited access plans available for only $12 to $17 monthly.

 

The money will also pay for hundreds of refurbished wireless devices which will be sold to lower-income families for $150. The network will be set up with the help of IBM

 

 

Riverside, California

 

Riverside, Calif. will soon be equipped with a citywide WiFi broadband Internet access network, which will be deployed by AT&T. The move will enable residents living and working in the city's 80-plus square miles, as well as commuters, to have wireless access to the Internet. This will be the telecom's largest citywide WiFi designed for public and municipal use planned to date. AT&T joined forces with MetroFi for this project.

 

AT&T will give users the choice to sign up for either a free advertising-supported access plan or a higher-speed access service plan.

 

Specifically, the agreement calls for AT&T to deploy equipment on city light poles and fixtures throughout the coverage area. AT&T will handle the maintenance and upgrade of the network and all related equipment, as well as handle all customer service operations. The WiFi connections will feed into the same AT&T backbone network infrastructure, which delivers a suite of broadband services, including DSL broadband and VPNs for businesses.

 

Pittsburgh, PA

 

WiFi Downtown Pittsburgh, as the network will be called, is powered by US Wireless Online, which owns and operates one of the nation’s largest wireless Internet broadband networks, covering significant portions of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania.

 

US Wireless Online provides wireless high-speed Internet access and networking solutions to businesses, hotels, apartment buildings, and public areas within its operating areas, providing a complete turnkey solution — including installation, equipment, monitoring, service, and security. Among its areas of expertise is state of the art Internet access and Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) infrastructure, which is has put to use in deploying WiFi Downtown Pittsburgh.

 

The company also partners with several well-known and respected names in the communications space, which ensures its customers get the best products available. Among its partners are Cisco, Alvarion (News - Alert), Trango Broadband Wireless, Crown Castle, and more — all of them make it possible for USWO to provide high quality carrier grade networking services. Indeed, this installation is not only ready to provide Internet access today, but is also capable of handling increasingly popular services like VoIP and other future applications. With the advent of dual mode WiFi/cellular handsets, this will become and increasingly popular means to make VoIP calls when outside the office.

 

WiFi Downtown Pittsburgh is unique in that is will offer two hours of free usage to users, who can access the network any time, outdoors, in the Central Business District, North Shore, and Lower Hill District. They simply need to select WiFi Pittsburgh on their wireless device and are free to use the service for two hours free of charge.

 

Following the two free hours, USWO offers various service tiers including US Wireless Online DayConnect, which provides usage at a higher bandwidth and can be purchased in increments of $7.99 per day, $14.99 per month, or $119.99 per year.

 

Tempe, Arizona

As one of the pioneering municipal WiFi cities in America, Tempe boasts an impressive 40 square mile WiFi network. Despite its grand implementation, access to the WiFi network requires a subscription and as such has seen slow integration with the cities residents. Currently only 15% of Tempe's residents own a municipal WiFi subscription.

 

Coverage:Citywide, 40 square miles; when neighboring cities complete networks by December, area will expand to 187 square miles. Expected completion: Tempe's network was completed in February. Cost to build: Not available. Vendor: MobilePro operates the network; was built by MobilePro, StrixSystems and Pronto Networks. Cost to users: None in a two-mile downtown area; $29.95 a month outside that area (weekly, daily, and hourly plans also available)

 

 

Los Angeles, Ca

 

Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced this week the launch of the "LA WiFi Initiative", which is a plan giving local residents, schools and businesses inexpensive high-speed wireless Internet access within two years. Roughly four million L.A. residents would have wireless fidelity (WiFi) capability if the plan should go through, but would nonetheless cost the city approximately $60 million. if the LA WiFi Initiative turns out to be successful, it would be the biggest citywide wireless network in the United States.

 

"By giving every resident high-speed access, we will transform Los Angeles into a cutting-edge city across every neighborhood and every economic sector," Villaraigosa said to reporters.

 

Vail Colorado

 

Residents, businesses and visitors are able to get free Internet access up to 300Kbps (kilobits per second) anywhere in town in one hour increments. Faster Internet service with speeds up to 10Mbps (megabits per second) are available with pay plans for daily, weekly, monthly and annual access.

 

 

The CenturyTel Vail WiFi network offers a website where users can find key Vail community news and events, as well as national news. CenturyTel is working with local Vail media outlets to provide key information about events and activities happening in Vail each week. The site is https://www.vailwi-fi.com/ .

 

 

 

 

Taipei, Taiwan

In 2004 Ying-jeou Ma, the mayor of Taipei set out to make his city the world's foremost wireless "cyber city." In less than three years he did just that by blanketing the city in one of the world's largest WiFi grids.

For a mere $70 million, Q-Ware Corp. was able to build a wireless network consisting of more than 20,000 access points with enough range to provide service for 90% of Taipei's population. That number is remarkable considering Taipei has more than 2.6 million residents in a 105 square mile area. Access to the city wide WiFi network is available for a low monthly fee ranging from $4.50 to $12.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of having city wide WiFi comes in the form of a near-ubiquitous Internet access. Users no longer have to find Internet cafés or wait until they get home to receive stock updates or check email on their laptops. Instead, anyone can simply activate a WiFi enabled device and enjoy -- pending they have purchased the service from Q-Ware Corp. of course.

To go along with the WiFi project, Ying-jeou Ma has implemented several types of free web services for the city's inhabitants including lifetime email accounts, ability to pay for city service bills online and a "three-hour online training course for Taipei citizens to acquire and sharpen their Internet skills."

Although in size and overall Internet capabilities Taipei is no Seoul, in terms of wireless penetration Taipei comes in at number one.

 

This included free, lifetime e-mail addresses for citizens, setting up Web sites for 436 agencies and 227 public schools, establishing an "e-Services Online" Web site that put 147 of the city's services online (29 of these offering online payment), set up 519 public information kiosks, provided 454 public computers in all municipal libraries, and designed 449 community Web sites in support of the different administrative districts under the city's jurisdiction.

 

Other innovations included a free three-hour, online training course for Taipei citizens to acquire and sharpen their Internet skills. To date, Ma said, over 300,000 citizens have taken this opportunity

 

The city-wide Wi-Fi network is being built by a private company, Q-Ware Corp. at an estimated cost of USD$70 million, in partnership with Nortel using its Wireless Mesh Network solution.

 

The biggest engineering challenge for connecting such a large number of access points throughout Taipei, according to a Nortel media statement, is identifying where each point needs to be placed, then ensuring each location allows transmission of a clear signal without interference. Pinpointing ideal locations for the more than 10,000 access points has been simplified by a new software tool called MeshPlanner. MeshPlanner is designed to allow network designers to provide superior service coverage and secure network access for seamless mobility throughout a city or campus while reducing planning and implementation costs.

 

According to C.S. Lin, chairman of Q-ware and chief executive officer of the President Group, the next phase of the project is expected to be completed by the end of August 2005 which will make Wi-Fi access available throughout the commercial area of Taipei.

 

To recoup their investment, Q-ware plans to charge citizens a monthly fee -- the equivalent of approximately USD$4.50-$12. This is less than the USD$25-$30 that wired broadband providers charge. The company hopes to attract a third of the city's residents as customers and to break even within five years.

 

The project has also attracted the support of other technology companies such as Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., and Cisco Systems Inc. all of whom are providing a combination of technical assistance and equipment.

 

The wireless plan will cost the city nothing. "We are doing it on a 'BOT'' plan -- a build, operate and transfer concept -- where a computer company takes care of installing all the access points (APs) and the city government provides all the facilities such as street light poles or electric light poles for installing the APs," Ma explained.

 

As part of the deal, Q-Ware has agreed to pay the city one percent of revenues in first two years of the agreement, and three percent in the remaining seven years. However, Ma admitted, "The business model of this wireless digital city is still to be developed, so there are risks ahead. But on the other hand there are also a lot of opportunities."

 

Africa

 

In South Africa, Knysna has muni WiFi, and there is talk that Gauteng may WiFi-enable the greater Johannesburg area in conjunction with iBurst. There are, of course, political considerations and pressure from internet providers who see their lucrative markets under threat. But inexpensive muni WiFi is inevitable even in South Africa.

 

Canada

 

Vancouver

 

The City of Vancouver is seeking a private-sector partner to install and operate a wireless communications network that could provide free wireless Internet WiFi access to the entire city.

The network will require about 2,000 antennae, many of which will be installed on city buildings and infrastructure such as lamp standards and will cost about $10 million to fully implement in time for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

 

 

About $500,000 to be spent on feasibility studies and technical consultants will be added to the 2007 capital plan. The money is to be recovered from the company that secures the contract to build the network.

 

 

Malaysia

 

Meanwhile, Ipoh is well on its way to becoming the first WiFi-enabled city in the country, shaming both Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. Work has already begun there and at press time, 12 sites were live, with early users reportedly enjoying up to 2Mbits download speeds. How we envy them!

 

 

Brazil

 

Although there is not a municipal wi-fi project, there are wi-fi hotspots.

 

Hotspots

 

Brazil: Vex sets WiFi spots into McDonald`s restaurants

S2 Comunicacao - http://www.s2.com.br

97 words

13 February 2007

IT Digest

English

Copyright Latinscore 2007

Vex, a leading WiFi networks installation company, entered a partnership with McDonald`s fast food to set up WiFi services in 500 restaurants in Brazil, and so far has set up the service in 33 sites. The whole contract is to be fulfilled within 24 months. Vex has the goal to set up 3,000 hot spots until end 2008, and seeks partnerships to expand capillarity, says president Roberto Ugolini Neto. Currently it manages 800 hot spots in 118 municipalities.

 

 

Saudi Arabia

 

Riyadh set to become WiFi linked Smart City: Riyadh is set to become Saudi Arabia’s first Smart city with WiFi connections available throughout the city. The first phase of this project was unveiled yesterday with Prince Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz Street going WiFi.Anyone with a wireless device, such as a WiFi-configured laptop computer or mobile phone, can access the Internet by connecting to the airwaves around this main avenue in the city'.

 

 

Hong Kong, China

 

Rather sit under a tree than pay for a coffee while surfing the internet? Soon you will be able to under a government plan to equip parks, museums and community halls with free wireless connection, bringing it into competition with shops and eateries providing the service. The government will spend HK$210 million over the next two years to install WiFi - as wireless internet is more commonly known - in more than 200 venues across the city including all libraries, major cultural and recreation centres and government offices.

 

 

 

 

Other Links

 

  • WiFi ...Page name match: WiFi...
  • FON ...FON is the largest WiFi community in the world. Our members share their wireless...
  • Industry Analysis ...Wifi: ...
  • Motorola ...Motorola Creates Mesh WiFi Networks for Wireless Cities ...
  • Navigation device for the car ...Since we already know that most major cities in the [USA] are already rolling ou...
  • US fixed line telecommunications industry review ...Wireless service and VOIP technology are current players in the Telecom industry...
  • WiMAX ...WiMax differs from WiFi in that it has much longer ranges — as much as 10 miles ...
  • hotspots ...Many services, such as Boingo, My Hot Zone, Surf And Sip, Nomadix, zonaWiFi.biz,...
  • municipal wi-fi ...ABI, for example, predicts that 126,000 square miles in America will be covered ...
  • tech trends to watch ...As cities i

 

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