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Purpose of section: Briefly introduce the top of our paper utizlizing the 5 W's & H.

In this paper, we examine the "state of the technology" of citywide wireless networks. We will give an overview of the different technologies that can be used to create and deploy citywide wireless, and discuss the various business models that can be adopted to implement such a network. Various benefits to citywide wireless networks are examined, as well as several barriers to their success. Two case studies are presented to highlight a success story and a failed attempt to implement a citywide wireless network, and the current state of citywide wireless in Milwaukee is discussed as well.

Before discussing the various technologies that exist, it will be helpful to define a few terms used throughout this paper.

Wi-Fi - Does not mean wireless-fidelity, just catchier than "802.11 network" (citation needed)

Citywide Wireless (WHAT)

Purpose of Section: WHAT is citywide wireless.

There is an important difference between citywide and municipal wireless. "The former could be backed and run by the government, but could also be installed, operated and owned by a third-party provider. The latter is specifically the case where the network is run by the government, and is installed using taxpayer funds.", 3/11/2007 5:28pm Municipal wireless is a type of citywide wireless network, but not all citywide wireless networks can rightly be called municipal wireless. To further complicate matters, some citywide wireless projects encompass only a small portion of a city, and the term public wireless is also bandied about. We will avoid the term public because of its connotation of taxpayer funding. The scope of this paper is citywide wireless, whether it be municipal, entirely private, or some sort of public/private partnership, and whether it actually be city-wide, or merely encompass a city's downtown area.

Business Case for Citywide Wireless (WHY)

Purpose of Section: Why are cities wanting to implement citywide wireless? List Of Sources:

Connecting the Public: The Truth About Municipal Broadband
Municipal Broadband: Digging Beneath the Surface
Municipal Broadband Is Not a Public Utility
A Study of the Economic and Community Benefits of Cedar Falls, Iowa’s Municipal Telecommunications Network
Waterloo and Cedar Falls—A Case Study in Connectivity

Arguments for Municipal Wireless Networks

  • Arguments List
The supporters of Municipal wireless usually present the following five major arguments in favor of their position:
  1. In the modern American society broadband networks (including wireless networks) begin to fall into category of public utilities. Being highly demanded (if not required) by the vast majority of the residents, they usually have high capital costs. It often does not allow private sector to fully meet local community need in the affordable, reliable, well-performing network available for all the residents.
  2. Municipal wireless can be used as an additional source of income for the local government. Instead of raising taxes or having to postpone valuable community projects, local government could both provide the residents with the useful service, and collect money in order to use them for the benefit of the whole community. It is highly unlikely, however, that a private provider would willingly have spent its profit on the local community needs.
  3. In many regions private providers fail to meet local community needs. They tend to engage in “cherry-picking” and pay more attention to rich, profitable regions rather than to small, rural, or disadvantaged communities. Such a behavior leads to the certain regions being underserved or overcharged.

  4. More and more local governments admit that having good communications is the matter of critical importance for the economical growth of the region. They argue that building a municipal wireless network can boost the local economy. In addition, such social institutes as public education, healthcare, and others can benefit tremendously from such a network being available. Therefore, the capital investments will be compensated in a relatively short period of time because of the economical growth stimulated by the wireless network. On the other hand, communities whose residents lack the access to the affordable broadband networks are in danger of losing the competition with their better equipped neighbors.
  5. Municipal entities are driven by community needs and are accountable to community whereas private sector is driven by shareholders’ interests and not accountable to local residents. Therefore, decisions on municipal wireless implementation and functioning are more likely to be based on social benefits and long term community growth whereas private sector decisions are more likely to be based on shareholder’s interests and profits.
  • Arguments Analysis
  1. In their first argument Municipal Wireless supporters claim that Municipal Broadband, including Wireless, is gaining the characteristics of public utility and therefore needs to be administered by local governments. However, the article by Steven Titch published in Info Tech & Telecom News on June 1 2005 very convincingly states the opposite – there is a big difference between traditional public utilities and broadband services. According to that article, nearly the only factor that broadband services and traditional utilities (water, power, and others) have in common is a high upfront investment. However, most of the other characteristics seem to be different. For example, traditional utilities have stable, predictable business model and predictable costs and revenues, whereas the business models for broadband services are unstable and their costs and revenues are much less predictable. Traditional utilities have high barriers to competitive entry, whereas there is growing competition on the broadband services market. Traditional utilities have low speed of technology cycles and allow long term amortization whereas broadband technology changes very fast and no long term amortization is usually possible. Overall, Municipal Wireless supporters seem to loose this argument because there is a strong evidence that major characteristics of broadband services are different from those of traditional utilities.
  2. The second argument suggests that municipal wireless is beneficial for the local community in terms of revenue and efficiency. On one hand, municipal wireless is a viable solution for reducing government expenses, increasing revenues and leveraging public assets. On the other hand, however, municipal wireless is associated with financial risks and poses a threat to the competitive communications framework and basic political values. Such ambivalence leads a notion that there is no right and wrong side in this argument. Only careful evaluation of the municipal wireless project can help to find out whether it brings an ultimate benefit to the community or not.
  3. In their third argument municipal wireless supporters claim that the private providers fail to meet community needs in the universal and affordable access to broadband communication channels. Municipal wireless opponents, however, object to this statement saying that according to the vast majority of reputable research made, the broadband service are becoming widely available and the prices for these services are falling fast. For example, DSL and cable modem are now available in more than 85% households. Most communities that implemented municipal wireless already had at least one private provider available by the time they decided to go wireless. At the same time, there still exist many communities where residential broadband services are not available. Moreover, some of these communities cannot expect private broadband to be available in the nearest future. Overall, our conclusion is that the minority of the communities really suffers from the lack of affordable broadband services, whereas the majority seems to be pretty well served by private providers or can expect to be served by them in the nearest future.
  4. The forth argument of the municipal wireless supporters is that municipal wireless stimulates the economical growth of the community. However, Balhow and Rowe “… has not been able to find any substantive and disciplined studies that document or verify economic growth because of the municipal intervention;” (page 69). They also pointed out that businesses are not likely to benefit from municipal wireless in the nearest future because they require higher level of reliability and security that wireless technology can now provide. Both supporters and opponents of municipal wireless claim that they have “studies” proving or disproving the impact of municipal wireless on economic development of community. However, most of these “studies” are more propagandist brochures made to convince the reader in the usefulness or uselessness of municipal wireless rather than examples of a serious scientific research. For example, a study performed by Doris J. Kelly in 2003 claimed that municipal communications network is “…a key component for economic growth in a knowledge driven economy” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, page 12. However, a different study carried out by Virchow Krause in 2004 showed that the recent economical growth of Cedar Rapids was in significant part due to the construction of Target distribution center. Target management, in their turn, reported that availability and accessibility of the land was the major reason for their decision to build the center in Cedar Falls, and not the availability of the municipal communications network. It is important to note, that neither of the study gives us enough information in order to make the final conclusion on the Cedar Falls case. It is hard to say whether the land is Cedar Falls became attractive to Target because of the impact of the municipal broadband, or because of the other reasons. Overall, at present we do not have enough scientific data and analysis in order to make any conclusion on the impact that municipal wireless has on the economic development of the community.
  5. The last argument of the municipal wireless supporters is that municipal entities are driven by community needs and accountable to the community, whereas private communications providers not necessarily serve the public interest. However, the whole American economy is based on the notion that healthy competition between private companies in most cases serves community better than municipal intervention. At the same time, we need to admit that there are various social issues that need to be addressed. In order to do this, local government can provide incentives to businesses and/or support payments for their services. Overall, the public interest seems to be better served by a healthy competition of the private providers, and there is a duty of local, state, and federal government to enforce this competition. However, if despite the efforts this competition is unhealthy or does not exist, municipal wireless becomes a viable alternative.
  • Conclusion

Arguments against Municipal Wireless Networks

  • Arguments List
  • Arguments Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Final words

There are a growing number of successful projects. City Services improvement:

  • Public Safety Applications
  • Automated meter readings (gas, electricity, etc.)
  • Automated city vehicle location
When we consider a various range of municipal wireless applications we often think about individual customers and local business, sometimes we mention public schools, but rarely do we remember about the other very important area – city services, including a public safety system.
Both public safety system (police, fire, and emergency services) and other city services (for example, parking enforcement) can benefit tremendously from the broadband wireless.
However, private providers are unavailable in many small rural communities. A significant number of such areas either do not have a provider at all, or have only one provider available. In addition, private telecommunication companies may not be interested in or eligible for automating certain kinds of city services.
Meanwhile, according to the press release published by the city of Granbury, TX on October, 26 2005, “Granbury, Texas (pop. 6,000) is deploying a Wi-Fi network that covers 26 square kilometers. The city will use the network for public safety (police, fire and emergency services), building inspection, meter reading and public access.” on 04.09.2007
The city of Granbury’s municipal Wi-Fi network will not only read city’s electric, water, and gas meters, but also support local police and fire departments. In addition, it will provide residents with the cheap high speed Internet connection.

New revenue stream (charging tourists and visiting business people) Economic stimulation

An access to broadband network is becoming essential for the economic growth of regions, from rural communities to certain urban neighborhoods of bigger cities.
An absence of this access deepens economical disadvantage and leads to an increased number of residents losing their jobs. For example, local economy suffers from the telecommuting opportunities being unavailable for the majority of the residents.
Healthcare system and education system suffer as well because nowadays they heavily utilize broadband communications. Students in public schools lack both access to various educational resources and technical skills that are necessary in order to use these resources efficiently. Local physicians and surgeons are deprived of using the promising possibilities offered by tele-medicine.
Whereas existing private providers often overcharge and undeserve customers who live in disadvantaged or distant areas, it is a local government who has the responsibility to provide the residents with an affordable access to broadband network.
It has been a long historical tradition of municipalities filling the gap between the high demand for the certain kinds of essential services and the insufficient or unsuitable offer of those services maintained by private companies.
Since broadband is becoming just as important to the local community as other elements of infrastructure (roads, community colleges, municipal health clinics, etc.) it needs local government support .
  • Increased global competitiveness of local businesses, especially smaller ones.
  • Facilitates easier and cheaper Internet access for students and low income people
  • Perceived increase in the number of telecommuters, including people who work at home and (most important) people who work elsewhere while continuing to live in the city
  • Municipal networks provide the competition necessary to keep rates low and quality of service high.
Today, many communities in the United States have only a single provider or a duopoly consisting of a telecommunication company and a cable company.
It is common for such communities to have higher service rates and lower service quality. Moreover, in this case incumbent cable and/or telecommunication companies are usually trying to prevent competitors from entering the local market.
Municipal systems, on the other hand, do not have such an incentive. Therefore, municipal wireless can protect local consumers from the unfavorable practices exercised by monopolies and increase competition in the telecommunication market.

Lower cost in comparison to wired technologies Poor prospects for incumbent provider(s) to meet community needs

  • Broadband becomes increasingly important for unprofitable areas including welfare, education and healthcare, which are mostly ignored by private companies
  • Economic constraints (investments, buy-outs, bankruptcies, mergers, and defaults)
  • Inadequate broadband offerings (speed & availability)
  • Inadequate customer service
  • Different orientation to local needs (profit not public service)

The provision of communications services is the logical extensions of a century old municipal utility mandate

Local governments all over the world have a long history of successful managing many systems critical for the lives of the citizens. Today people trust their municipals with many complicated tasks from providing the citizens with drinking water to educating their children, from running public transportation systems to enforcing law.
Therefore, the statement of some municipal wireless systems critics that local governments are incapable of managing complex broadband systems is baseless which is proved both by history and by multiple evidences from our modern everyday life.

Municipal systems do not “crowd out” private providers any more than the New York City Subway “crowds out” private taxi cabs and car services. To the contrary, studies and factual evidence show that where municipal systems take on the expensive task of building network infrastructure, the number of private providers increases.

According to a recent study, the United States has dropped to 16th in the percentage of citizens with access to broadband, trailing South Korea, Canada, Israel, and Japan, among others. There is consensus across the political spectrum that we need to go wireless—and fast. (

Additional Reference if needed:

Market Players / Forces (WHO)

Purpose of Section: Identify the players, their views, and present conclusive findings.

The Players

Cities, Citywide wireless vendors, incombant telco's, public/business, government.

Private enterprise resistance

Anti-competitive Legislation and Misinformation Campaign Bells and cable companies are lobbying hard to keep government out of the race - the message: Local governments should not compete against private industries, which have spent billions of dollars on infrastructure to serve residents and on city taxes.

Stop the ban of Muni-Wireless networks in Texas

Strong competing technologies (fiber optic cable, etc.)

Legal Issues

The main law that regulates Telecommunication industry in the United States is the Telecommunications Act approved by Congress in 1996 ( The primary role in implementing this law belongs to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Article 253 of the Telecommunications Act clearly states that “No State or local statute or regulation, or other State or local legal requirement, may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.”
One may think that since the law applies to “any entity”, it automatically includes local governments, which therefore cannot be banned from providing their residents with the broadband services - for instance, with Wi-Fi Internet.
However, in reality, 15 states, including Wisconsin, currently have various restrictions of on the municipal broadband services (
The right of the states to pass such a restrictive legislation was confirmed in 2004 by the Supreme Court's decision on the NIXON, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MISSOURI v. MISSOURI MUNICIPAL LEAGUE case (
In its ruling the Supreme Court of the United States decided that “any entity” wording mentioned in the article 253 of the Telecommunication Act refers to any private entity and excludes State’s own subdivisions.
The Supreme Court ruling intensified the constant political battle between the municipal broadband supporters and their opponents. In 2005 it resulted in 5 states having approved municipal broadband restrictions of various kinds and 9 states having rejected or postponed such measures.
For example, in the state of Washington cities cannot offer broadband directly to their residents. However, they are still able to build their own wireless infrastructure and then lease it to private intermediate parties who will in their turn provide the service to the residents.
Wisconsin law not only requires cities to conduct research and hold public hearings before they can offer municipal wireless services to residents, but also prohibits local governments from subsidizing telecommunication services from their budgets.However, Milwaukee, Madison, and many smaller Wisconsin communities are successfully overcoming these difficulties introduced by the controversial legislation.
It is hardly a surprise that private telecommunication industry is the primary force behind the efforts to pass state legislation restricting municipal broadband services including Wi-Fi.
For example, Verizon telecommunication giant applied significant lobbying efforts in order to push the legislation containing some serious restrictions on municipal broadband services in Pennsylvania. Negative reaction of the local communities was ignored by the interested parties. Fortunately, the legislation made an exception to the major Philadelphia Wi-Fi project; other local governments statewide, however, were impacted by the restrictions.
It is clear, that Verizon and other telephone and cable giants fear the competition from the local governments and it looks like their fear is not baseless. According to some research recently made, the profits of private telecommunication companies tend to decrease in the cities which introduce their own municipal broadband services.
  • Most states do not have legal barriers
  • Missouri Case
    • FCC ruling (“any entity” does not include state political subdivisions
    • Appeal Court unanimously reversed FCC ruling
    • Supreme court reversed Appeal Court
  • Public entities need state/local authority for each activity
  • Florida
    • Gov. Jeb Bush signd a law that prevents municpalities from offering broadband if there are competing private services
  • Nevada
    • bans most cities and counties from offering telecommunications services
  • Texas
    • bans all cities/counties from offereing telecommunications services
  • Verizon is a big player, using lobbyists to help draft anti-wireless statutes
  • Other legislation


If a city owns the network, it has an unfair advantage against private businesses. This could cause a decline in competition and give the city a monopoly. Internet access is a luxury rather than a necessity, so public funds should not be used to provide it. There is no evidence showing municipal investments in broadband lead to faster economic growth or higher personal incomes. Potential for Government censorship Potential loss of Privacy Broadband services sufficient to meet the needs of residents and business are now available to nearly every residence and business in the U.S., including previously under-served areas There is the potential for financial waste since municipalities can cross-subsidize their services and then claim that the economic shortfalls are simply part of the charge to offer social services for which there is a lesser or negative financial return

Possible Additional Sources:
Think Tank Trashes Municipal-Run Wireless
Taking Sides for the Municipal Wireless Showdown

Implementing Citywide Wireless (HOW)

Business models (public/private partnerships, etc.)

Private Enterprise Venture

Private Enterprise ventures are funded completely by a private company for implementation and support. The particular company will take all of the risk as well as reap any of the rewards of the city-wide infrastructure. The private venture will typically offer the city reduced or free rates in exchange for use of the cities vital logistic resources, such as telephone poles, light poles, and government buildings, to implement the wireless infrastructure.

It is argued by the Reason Foundation that municipal efforts and plans often plan the wireless infrastructure project like any other government utility, and in doing so, fail to take into account the following:

  1. Competition
    Unlike government services such as water, gas, and electric which are monopolistic in nature, providing Internet is highly competitive in most mid size to major cities. Therefore, city governments won't be able realize the customer penetration rates that they have with their existing services.
  2. Performance Competition
    A lot more factors into purchasing an internet service provider then a typical government offered utility. There's different tiers of service as well as a number of add-on services that private companies are continually developing to give their product an edge. Examples include some content packages that are being offered with base speed rates, like the AT&T Yahoo offering and the Time Warner AOL offering.
  3. Continuous Improvement
    Internet services are constantly getting faster and cheaper because of advances in the technology and delivery of the internet technology.
  4. Technological Change and Lock-in
    An argument is made by the Reason foundation that governments are more susceptible to lock-in with the wrong product due to special interest groups, public polices, high turnover in office, and not being an expert in the field lead to improper technology deployment decisions.
  5. Obsolescence
    Governments typically implements a system and does long term financial analysis to ensure a return. In this case, a government service would have to continuously feed additional funding into the infrastructure to upgrade it to remain competitive and able to work with tomorrow's computing standards.
  6. Risk
    The amount of return on this product offering is more risky due to things such as unknown obsolescence of equipment and what amount of the market share the municipal will be able to procure.
  7. Uncertainty
    There is no telling the future of citywide wireless and the technologies that is uses. The technology could be completely outdated by cellular broadband in the future.
  8. Private and Municipal Joint Venture

    Publicly funded Utility

    Publicly funded "municipal" networks are funded completely by taxpayer dollars. The idea from the city's standpoint is to offer this service at a fee to the general public to recoup costs, as well as to earn additional monies for future projects and expansions.

    Supporters of the Publicly funded networks include the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR)

    The ILSR makes the following claims:

    1. High-speed information networks are essential public infrastructure.
      "Just as high quality road systems are needed to transport people and goods, high quality wired and wireless networks are needed to transport information. Public ownership of the physical network does not necessarily mean the city either manages the network or provides services. Cities own roads, but they do not operate freight companies or deliver pizzas."
    2. Public ownership ensures competition.
      "A publicly owned, open access network can be open to all service providers on the same terms, thereby encouraging the entry of new service providers. Customers can choose broadband service providers according to the combination of price, speed and service that fits their needs."
    3. Publicly owned networks can generate significant revenue.
      "Telecommunications networks are different from traditional public works like roads because they can be self-financing both in terms of initial construction costs and ongoing upgrades. They can also generate revenue for local government, reduce the cost of government services, or keep more money in residents’ pockets with lower prices."
    4. Public ownership can ensure universal access.
      "Publicly owned road, water and sewer, and sidewalk networks connect all households without discrimination. All have access to the same services, though they may purchase different amounts. Private companies, on the other hand, have incentives to upgrade their networks only where it will be the most profitable."
    5. Public ownership can ensure non-discriminatory networks.
      "With publicly owned networks, customers can be sure that any traffic management mechanisms are necessary and not simply to improve profitability."

    Different technologies that can be used to create/deploy


    • Three Levels
      • PAN
        • Personal Area Network
        • IEEE 802.15
        • 33ft radius
        • Allows devices to communicate over short distances
        • Bluetooth
      • LAN
        • Local Area Network
        • IEEE 802.11
        • ~ 300ft radius
        • Limited to small central area (corporate office, coffee house, etc)
      • MAN
        • Metropolitan Area Network
        • IEEE 802.16
        • ~30 mile radius
        • Connect areas the size of cities

    When city leaders begin planning for the deployment of a city-wide wireless network they are faced with many decisions. One of the most important decisions is which technology to base the network upon. Currently there are a myriad of vendors offering a multitude of solutions, but the solutions all ride on the same three basic wireless technologies: Celluar, Mesh Wi-Fi, and WiMAX.


    • Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access
    • IEEE Standard 802.16 (MAN, or Metropolitan Area Network)
      • Range - 30-mile (50-km) radius from base station
      • Speed - 70 megabits per second
      • Line-of-sight not needed between user and base station
      • Frequency bands - 2 to 11 GHz and 10 to 66 GHz (licensed and unlicensed bands)
      • Defines both the MAC and PHY layers and allows multiple PHY-layer specifications
    • Features
      • High-speed of broadband (70 megabits per second, but split between users)
      • Wireless
        • Cheaper than running cable
        • Easy to expand into suburban/rural areas
      • Broad coverage (unlike sparse WiFi)
        • Speed is not the big advantage – coverage is.
        • WiFi range is ~ 100ft
    • Equipment
      • WiMAX Tower
        • Can cover 3000 square miles
        • Direct connection to ISP via high-bandwidth lines like T3. ISP then connects to internet backbone
        • Can connect to other line-of-sight towers (also known as backhaul)
          • This is the way to extend out into rural areas
      • WiMAX Receiver
        • Small box, PCMCIA card, built-in notebook device
    • Service Type
      • Line of Sight
        • Fixed dish antenna points at a WiMAX tower from a rooftop or pole
        • Stronger, stable connection
        • Uses high frequencies around 66GHz (less interference, more bandwidth)
        • 2800 square miles
      • Non-Line of Sight
        • Like WiFi
        • Low frequency range (2-11GHz)
          • Not as easily disrupted by physical barriers
        • 4-6 mile range

    Standards not quite ripe--current deployments are "pre-WiMAX"

    WiMAX Networks

    WiMAX, an acronym that stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a wireless industry coalition whose members organized to advance IEEE 802.16 standards for broadband wireless access networks. The IEEE 802.16 Metropolitan Area Network, or MAN, standard creates a wireless solution that can provide service within a 30-mile radius from each base station, transmitting data a speeds up to 70 Mbps (megabits per second). WiMAX utilizes multiple licensed and unlicensed radio frequency bands from 2GHz to 66GHz. As a result of this frequency utilization, line-of-sight is not required between the end user and the base station.

    WiMAX service is provided by using two pieces of equipment – a WiMAX tower, and a WiMAX receiver. An individual WiMAX tower can cover an area of approximately 3,000 square miles. The tower is connected directly to a regional Internet Service Provider (ISP) via high-bandwidth lines such as T3. The ISP attaches to an internet backbone, providing service to the WiMAX tower. WiMAX towers can communicate with other WiMAX towers through line-of-sight. This practice is known as backhaul, and it is the feature that allows WiMAX technology to be extended into remote rural and suburban areas.

    In order to receive a WiMAX signal, the client simply needs to purchase a compatible WiMAX receiver. This receiver can be attached to the subscriber’s home, or it can be built into a computer using traditional hardware such as PCMCIA or PCI expansion cards, USB dongles, or built-in chips commonly found in today’s laptops. The client has two methods of receiving the WiMAX signal, either through line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight. For line-of-sight connection the subscriber mounts a antenna on a building or pole and points the dish towards an available WiMAX tower. Line-of-sight is a stronger, stabler connection utilizing the higher-frequency radio bandwitdth, and is less subject to interference. For clients not using line-of-sight the method of access is very similar to traditional WiFi service. Signals are captured in the 2GHz-11GHz range, but the signal can be obtained in a 4-6 mile radius rather than the 100ft radius provided by current 802.11 technology.

    WiMAX has many advantages over traditional broadband service. WiMAX channels can transmit data at speeds close to 70Mbps for subscribers in close proximity to the tower. When this channel is split between multiple businesses and end-users, the individual throughput is still higher than today’s typical speeds of 5Mbps – 8Mbps. WiMAX is a wireless solution, which means providers do not need to run physical cable to subscribers’ homes – a significant cost savings which theoretically could be translated to lower subscription prices. The nature of the service allows for easy expansion into suburban and rural areas, a significant obstacle to overcome because current broadband providers have yet to run cable to these remote locations.

    802.11 Networking standards

    • What is it
    • IEEE Standard 802.11
    • Features
    • Equipment
    • Service Type

    Wireless LAN standard, using unlicensed 2.4 and 5GHz spectrum Faster than cable modem (up to 11 Mbps) Mobility, public safety, community/business development Range limited: 50' to 200' (more with congnitive radios, or if directed, or fewer structures, etc.) Wireless Mesh Networks

    A mesh network is defined as a network that employs one of two connection arrangements – full mesh or partial mesh topology. In the full mesh scenario, each node is connected directly to every other node in the network whereas in a partial mesh individual nodes are only connect to a few other nodes. A wireless mesh network employs a full mesh topology. Users deploy multiple mesh nodes throughout the city, with one node serving as the backhaul connection to the internet. This is an advantage over the deployment of individual traditional wireless access points which all need dedicated connections to the ISP. When a mesh node receives data from a wireless client, this data is routed through the surrounding nodes until the wired node is reached.

    While there is no set standard for the wireless mesh network as a whole, wireless mesh networks utilize technology based upon the widely-accepted IEEE 802.11 set of standards. These standards allow individual radios to provide coverage over a 100ft radius relative to the base station at speeds close to 54Mbps. The radios can utilize either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz unlicensed radio bands, 5GHz being preferrable as it is not subject to intereference caused by wireless telephones or microwaves. IEEE is working on the 802.11s standard for wireless mesh networks, as there are currently more than 70 different schemes in use for routing packets between nodes.

    Some of the advantages of wireless mesh networks include their low cost. Many potential subscribers already possess the 802.11 equipment needed to access a network of this type, via PCMCIA or PCI add-on cards, USB devices, or built-in laptop chips. On the deployment side, 802.11 radios are relatively inexpensive. Since a wireless mesh network scales quite easily, the cost to increase coverage is minimal. Another advantage of the wireless mesh network is its decentralized nature. If a node fails packets are simply routed to the next available node. However, there are still points of failure inherent in the backhaul nodes so it is wise to employ more than one of these wired nodes. Finally, each wireless node consumes a very small amount of power. The nodes could even be powered by solar or wind technology, further reducing the cost of deployment.


    • What is it
    • IEEE Standard or Specifications
    • Features
    • Equipement
    • Service Types

    Commercial products on the market

    This article I found provides some product details. [1]

    Technology Hurdles

    Initial expense

    Maintenance and operations


    • Should service be free or not?
      • If it's free there is no need to worry about managing an "Account/Billing" management system but then service must be paid for using municipality general revenues
      • Make service for-pay, and turn operations over to an ISP like EarthLink or AT&T. The ISP will handling account and billing maintenance, and in return for exclusive access to a population they can provide low-cost service to all citizens



    Coverage problems for Wi-Fi

    Wireless has problems penetrating buildings. Source

    Past failures due to lack of interest or faulty equipment - too risky The equipment itself will one day be obsolete and need replacement.

    Analysis of past implentations (WHO, WHERE, WHEN, HOW Aggregation)

    Purpose of Section: This section should aggregate the successes and failures use this information to identify criteria of a successful / failed project. What lead to successful implementations? Why did the failures fail?

    Current Implementations and Initiatives US Map of Municipal Wireless Networks


    St. Cloud, FL, 4/12/2007 12:24pm

    St. Cloud, FL is being called the first free citywide Wi-Fi network in the country. St. Cloud is a suburb of Orlando and has about 28,000 residents. The city-wide network spans 15-square-miles. St. Cloud officials have so far spent more than $2 million on a network they see as a pioneering model for freeing local families, schools and businesses from monthly internet bills. Officials are also promising to reduce the city’s cell phone bills and let paramedics in ambulances talk via voice and video to hospital doctors. St. Cloud launched the network on a trial basis in May 2004 in a new division of town to help give businesses an incentive to relocate. After further exploring the benefits, officials decided to expand it citywide. The network is budgeted to cost $2.6 million for the build out and estimated to cost $400,000 annually in operating expense; however officials say increased efficiency in city government will cover these costs. For example, phones that use the Wi-Fi network will allow it to cut cell-phone bills for police and city workers. The city can avoid adding 10 more building inspectors because the network will allow existing employees to enter and access data onsite instead of driving back to the office. The network also could keep the estimated $450 that St. Cloud households now spend each year on high-speed access in the local economy.

    As of April 2006, nearly 3,500 users had registered for the network, logging 176,189 total hours of use. St. Cloud contracted with Hewlett-Packard to build the project and provide customer support. "HP is working with the city and its partners to optimize the solution and install additional access points to help improve signal strength in isolated areas of the city," the company said in a statement. So far, there have been plenty of calls from frustrated residents. Some can see receivers from their homes and still can't sign on -- even on the porch. Others have tried to connect countless times. Still, HP said that there were only 842 help-line calls out of more than 50,000 user sessions in the first 45 days of service. One user quoted in the article as being extremely frustrated with the service and plans to stay with paying for DSL service ($20 per month). It should be noted though that this user chose to forgo purchasing a signal-boosting device St. Cloud recommends for those having trouble connecting -- City Hall sells them for $170. The fact that others are sharing this user’s frustration is a crucial technical and public relations problem. At some point the term “free” has to be questioned; especially if users are going to have to shell out $170 to purchase a signal-boosting device in hopes of connecting to the network. Former Mayor Glenn Sangiovanni, who spearheaded the project, stressed that kinks were still being worked out, but noted that not everyone was having problems. "We went into this with the expectation that it's really a year plan that we're going to implement," he added. "You don't know what you're going to get into when you take on the whole city because you can't stress test that." Resident Chuck Cooper, a former city commissioner, bought an antenna, but still gets a shaky connection. Navigating from one site to another still produces errors. Generally, he says, it's slightly faster than dial-up access. But even critics like him are quick to praise the endeavor in between grumbles over early problems.” All in all, I guess it's a good idea," Cooper said. "I equate it to cell phones 10 to 15 years ago. You used to have a lot of dropped calls, but now they're substantially better. Hopefully, this will get a little better a lot quicker."

    Frontier towns in Rural Oregon, 4/12/2007 4:19pm

    The world's largest hotspot, a wireless cloud that stretches over 700 square miles of landscape so dry and desolate it could have been lifted from a cowboy tune. But here among the thistle, large providers such as local phone company Qwest Communications International see little profit potential. So, wireless entrepreneur Fred Ziari drew no resistance for his proposed wireless network, enabling him to quickly build the $5 million cloud at his own expense. While his service is free to the general public, Ziari is recovering the investment through contracts with more than 30 city and county agencies, as well as big farms such as Hale's, whose onion empire supplies over two-thirds of the red onions used by the Subway sandwich chain. Morrow County, for instance, pays $180,000 a year for Ziari's service. Each client, he said, pays not only for yearly access to the cloud but also for specialized applications such as a program that allows local officials to check parking meters remotely. "Internet service is only a small part of it. The same wireless system is used for surveillance, for intelligent traffic system, for intelligent transportation, for telemedicine and for distance education," said Ziari, who immigrated to the United States from the tiny Iranian town of Shahi on the Caspian Sea. "Outside the cloud, I can't even get DSL," said Hale. "When I'm inside it, I can take a picture of one of my onions, plug it into my laptop and send it to the Subway guys in San Diego and say, 'Here's a picture of my crop.'"

    The wireless network uses both short-range Wi-Fi signals and a version of a related, longer-range technology known as WiMax. While Wi-Fi and WiMax antennas typically connect with the internet over a physical cable, the transmitters in this network act as wireless relay points, passing the signal along through a technique known as "meshing." Ziara's company built the towers to match the topography. They are as close as a quarter-of-a-mile apart inside towns like Hermiston, and as far apart as several miles in the high-desert wilderness. Asked why other municipalities have had a harder time succeeding, he replies: "Politics." "The 'Who's-going-to-get-a-piece-of-the action?' has been a big part of the obstacles," said Karen Hanley, senior marketing director of the Austin, Texas, Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group. No major players were vying for the action here, making the area's remoteness -- which in the past slowed technological progress -- the key to its advance. Morrow County, which borders Hermiston and spans 2,000 square miles, still doesn't have a single traffic light. It only has 11,000 people, a number that does not justify a large telecom player making a big investment, said Casey Beard, the director of emergency management for the county. The high desert around Hermiston also happens to be the home of one of the nation's largest stockpiles of Cold War-era chemical weapons. Under federal guidelines, local government officials were required to devise an emergency evacuation plan for the accidental release of nerve and mustard agents. Now, emergency responders in the three counties surrounding the Umatilla Chemical Depot are equipped with laptop computers that are Wi-Fi ready. These laptops are set up to detail the size and direction of a potential chemical leak, enabling responders to direct evacuees from the field. Traffic lights and billboards posting evacuation messages can also be controlled remotely over the wireless network. And for the Hermiston Police Department, having squad cars equipped with a wireless laptop means officers can work less overtime by being able to file their crime reports from the field. While the network was initially set up for the benefit of city and county officials, it's the area's businesses that stand to gain the most, say industry experts. For the Columbia River Port of Umatilla, one of the largest grain ports in the nation, the wireless network is being used to set up a high-tech security perimeter that will scan bar codes on incoming cargo.


    • Purpose: Identify the current state of Milwaukee and given the above analysis, will Milwaukee succeed or fail and on what scale?

    Milwaukee was first approached by Midwest Fiber Networks (MFN) in October 2005 with an offer to create a citywide-wireless network at no cost to taxpayers. MFN would not provide direct service to city residents, but rather would sell network access to other ISPs, who in turn would provide internet access to the public. The deal was approved in January 2006, on a 14-1 vote by the Milwaukee Common Council.4/12/2007, 6:00AM.

    The project faced delays in the contract stage, and is now even further behind schedule, having missed a January 16 deadline to have a five square mile demonstration area completed on the west side of the city. MFN requested an extension of the deadline to July 7, 2007, which was approved by the Public Works Committee [Shepherd Express, Vol. 29 Issue 15, April 12, 2007, p.12], and

    • approved/rejected

    by the full Common Council on April 17.

    Meanwhile, a separate WiMax system is being built by the Milwaukee Public Schools, using part of the television spectrum to which it has been given access by the FCC, as well as a small grant from the Department of Commerce. MPS has installed a WiMax antenna on its main building on West Vliet Street, and will begin bringing schools online, beginning with those closest to that building. With the about a dozen additional antennas, the entire school system will be covered in the network. While the impetus behind the MPS WiMax program is to provide schools with internet access, "MPS could also allow private WiMax carriers such as Sprint to gain access to its frequency, and offer accounts to city residents who prefer WiMax to WiFi." Revenue from leasing the bandwidth to private companies would be used to offset the cost of the network, and the computers that MPS plans to provide to low income students at little to no cost. [Shepherd Express, Vol. 29 Issue 15, April 12, 2007, p.12] It is unclear whether private consumers of this service would be able to "un-block" the adult content that the main MPS WiMax antenna would block its students from accessing.


    Google rumored to be planning a nationwide move using advertising-supported Wi-Fi access.

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