Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006
Municipal Wireless Links
Couple of recent NY Times articles cover municipal broadband deployment relating to Anaheim and New York City. The Anaheim one is very relevant to Minneapolis as it describes the recent Earthlink wireless network deployment. This is Earthlink's first real deployment, at least in a city of any size. (Anaheim has a population of 340,000.) Earthlink is competing for a wireless contract in Minneapolis with local company US Internet.

The article mentions that Anaheim has few tall buildings but that there could be deployment problems in cities like San Francisco (and Minneapolis) where there are tall buildings. Wireless signals are expected to get to the third or fourth floor and then either internal wiring takes over or some kind of wireless booster system will have to be put in place. The article makes this sound like Earthlink will be doing this in Anaheim.

At the Pilot Demo in Minneapolis yesterday, it sounded like getting a signal to the top of a high-rise building would be the building's problem, not the City's. Problem is that residents of many high-rises are low- or fixed-income (lots of elderly). Hopefully the City and The Vendor (Earthlink or US Internet) will help in those situations. (I am completely speculating here. The contract for wireless service is yet to be negotiated and there is still another major player in competition.)

As for free service in Anaheim, Earthlink president and CEO, Gary Betty, has this to say:

Free doesn't work. I mean, what's for free? People are in business to make money. We need to get return on capital."

San Francisco, according to the article, is a rare exception due to population density requiring less investment per wireless user.

Anaheim's first taste of EarthLink muni Wi-Fi

And here's the second article about NYC.

New York to Examine Creating Citywide Broadband Network

Even as a contractor moves ahead with plans to install wireless networks in 10 parks, New York City intends to study whether to establish a citywide broadband network similar to those planned by cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Read them soon. I suppose they will be locked behind the paywall in the near future.


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