According to Muniwireless
[http://muniwireless.com/municipal/1359], there are more than 300
metro-scale WiFi mesh projects currently underway or in the planning
stage, and we expect this number to grow dramatically over the next few
The enormous popularity of this form
of metro-scale broadband is motivated in part by the worldwide
acceptance of WiFi in both the residence and the enterprise. The
inclusion of WiFi in essentially all notebooks and even some handheld
mobile computers, permitting the same device to be used for broadband
access essentially everywhere, has undeniable appeal. Moreover, the
emerging integration of WiFi into cellular phone handsets and similar
mobile information and communications products is already a
recognizable trend; we expect this movement will reach critical mass
over the next few years, culminating in the broad availability of
converged broadband voice/data services. In short, metro-scale WiFi is
now past the experimental phase and well into production deployments.
These networks are becoming a fixture and even an expectationon a global scale, as municipalities and wireless ISPs (WISPs) turn to
them for a broad array of IT needs, government service and cost
efficiencies, public safety applications, and as a vehicle for both
economic development and a range of social benefits.
growing interest in metro-scale WiFi derives, in no small measure, from
the broad range of applications contemplated for such infrastructures.
These applications generally require much more substantial throughput
than is available from the more traditional wide-area infrastructures
such as those noted above, with demand more akin to wired broadband
services like cable and xDSL.
Cities of Brookline Massachusetts and Tempe Arizona are excellent
examples of how city-wide mesh networks can serve the direct interest
of municpal government operations and public safety, while also
offering free and paid commercial services to the public.
is no stranger to wireless networks. Previously a large area within
Tempe was installed with Single-radio WiFi equipment. Ultimately that
equipment did not provide the services required to meet the needs of
the City and its residents. After reassessing their needs, reviewing
the available product technologies, and having seen Strix Systems
Access/One products in action, the city was determined to move forward
with the first U.S. deployment of a large-scale citywide wireless mesh
network to enable affordable, high quality, uninterrupted broadband
wireless service for residents and businesses allow access to the
Internet from homes, schools, businesses, and outdoor venues.
goal was to provide service options to its residents, enhance support
to Tempe businesses, and optimize the cost-effectiveness of City
operations and provide Internet access and Virtual Private Network
connectivity (VPN) to homes, schools, public buildings, outdoor venues
and businesses in Tempe. Such a network would promote the economic
development of Tempe and enhance the image of the City and Arizona
State University (ASU) by increasing convenience and utility for Tempe
businesses, their patrons and employees, ASU Research facilities, and
special events. (Photo at left: Mayor Hallman).
new carrier-grade wireless infrastructure would enable unlimited free
wireless access for anyone in the City of Tempe employed by the City of
Tempe as well as ASU (Arizona State University) public services, while
free limited Internet access would be available for everyone in the
downtown Tempe area. Free limited access would also be available for
all ASU affiliates and City of Tempe employees from anywhere in Tempe.
network would be designed and built to compliment and supplement
Tempe’s existing infrastructure and the City of Tempe
telecommunications capabilities. The addition to the existing services
would improve support to Public Safety employees protecting Tempe
residents utilizing a City-wide high-speed wireless infrastructure.
There were several challenges to address including the utilization of
existing and abandoned, enclosures and power taps located on City light
poles and licensing the “public right-of-way” to the Wireless Service
Provider for the purpose of selling Internet access and related
services to residential and business customers within the City of Tempe
and provide free Internet access to certain users and to specified
agreement the service provider furnished, installed with the assistance
of Strix Pro/One™ professional services, and maintains the equipment
required to operate the WiFi mesh network, charges and administers
customer billing. Kite Networks provides telephone and on-line
technical support and 24x7 customer service, the while the City of
Tempe provides access to city-owned infrastructure (i.e. street lights,
public buildings, fiber) and power to each wireless nodes. The City and
Kite Networks negotiated a shared revenue model wherein the City
allocates a portion of its revenue for use of the network by municipal
employees and offer government & educational services to residents.
the network infrastructure, the City of Tempe selected the Strix
solution for its ability to provide a true multi-use network to provide
secure Wi-Fi access for businesses, residents, and guests, as well as a
separate network for municipal workers. This tandem network would
ensure that while residents enjoy a cost-effective alternative to
residential dial-up and provide an alternative to DSL and cable, every
police car and fire truck in the city are equipped with a Wi-Fi enabled
laptop which provides always-on connection to a private, secure
network. The network offers prioritized service, VPN and quality of
service add-on capabilities with nomadic service throughout the city.
Customers are able to enjoy a combination of voice-over-Wi-Fi, video
and data to their fixed home/business networks, or while roaming the
city's many outdoor and hospitality venues.
chose the Strix solution because we saw the high throughput and low
latency the system offers across large networks,” said Dave Heck,
Deputy CIO for the City of Tempe. “After evaluating the Strix
Access/One OWS installation
proposed for Tempe, it was clear that this system could scale while
maintaining the levels of throughput needed, keeping latency low enough
to support real-time applications. When complete, the city-wide network
will provide anytime, anywhere access to residents, businesses, and
municipal workers, enhancing the way people connect to the Internet, do
business, and serve our community.”
Strix wireless mesh network provides city-wide wireless connectivity
for all residents within city limits, but it also provides wireless
services to all of Tempe’s municipal departments, including police,
fire, and emergency personnel, as well as Arizona State University
personnel. This network has allowed every police car and fire truck in
the city to be equipped with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and to have an
always-on connection to a private, secure network. A demonstration of
this application was conducted at the City of Tempe’s “Cutting the
Wires” ceremony on November 28, 2005. In addition to the public and
municipal access Arizona State University is utilizing the network for
University officials, staff and students who are able to access the
network across the campus.
planning stages of the installation issues like pole position and
acquisition of vertical assets such as terminals and buildings had to
be determined. The condition of street poles was an issue in some
cases, as some were determine to be in poor condition, some were not
marked etc. Additional information such as geographic information
system (GIS) data would help to determining how data would flow from
the private to the municipal networks, and determining what kinds of
users would employ the network. In the downtown area of Tempe, there
had been installed new decorative poles that did not have solar taps
for power. New electrical adapters were created to run power to these
poles, and the adapters had to be aesthetically appealing.
initial wireless network covered 40 square miles of the city limits,
offering services to residents and visitors on an annual, monthly,
daily, and hourly basis, while providing much-needed competition to
cable and satellite internet services. The network also allows access
to multiple Internet service providers (ISPs) and provides internet
telephony service via Voice-over-IP (VOIP).
interesting observation emphasizing one of the many key advantages of
Strix DMA™ is that Strix products provide immediate network healing
capabilities. This was observed in Tempe do to the number of driving
accidents which knock down an average of 7 poles a month. The
self-healing mesh capabilities of the Strix products immediately
overcome such problems and keep the network running 24 x 7 even when
the entire light pole is knocked out of service.
Systems Outdoor Wireless System powered by Strix DMA™ is the proven
technology and deployment leader in the wireless mesh network
industry. Strix patented technologies serve public safety, emergency
services, local, state and federal government agencies, corporate
enterprise, industry, transportation and many related industry segments
in over 100 countries around the world.
to the deployment was offering new opportunities to local businesses.
There is a zone in the merchant district of downtown Tempe that offers
free Internet access on a limited basis, which encourages shoppers and
students to enjoy the downtown area and lakeside venues while surfing
the net. The Strix wireless network helps to enhance Tempe’s business
offerings enabling them to leverage mobility for profit. Customers
enjoy the freedom of wireless Internet, and workers can leverage the
power of online communication and data access while in the field.
of the Tempe network completed at the end of February 2006. The
network consists of nearly 600 OWS access ports providing coverage to
an area of 40 square miles which was completed in only 120 days.
Neoreach expects to see continuing community input from the mayor as
well as from various city steering committees and groups such as the
local community college and Arizona State University (ASU).
users log on page to a web page which offers specifically focused
content. Also known as a ‘walled garden’, this provides access for
City of Tempe personnel, the local community college district, and
ASU. Students access the educational domains at no charge. Neoreach
is also talking to the local school district about providing services.
The City of Tempe also directed Neoreach to provide two contiguous
hours of free access a day in areas where it wants to foster academic
and commercial growth.
additional to equipment providing a cost effective CAPEX and OPEX, a
wireless mesh network of this type is helping to stimulate economic
development and growth. Tempe’s wireless mesh network provides all
residents with low-cost, high-bandwidth network access—including mobile
and fixed wireless support—for about $29 a month or less. This is far
less than the cost of competing cable and DSL services.
a side by side trial deployment with competing, single and dual radio
mesh network solutions, remarkable performance was observed by Kite
Networks and the Cities CTO. It became immediately evident that the
that the city-wide deployment would utilize Strix Outdoor Wireless
System (OWS) due to the multiple uses, high demand and high performance
required of the network.
recently tested by independent equipment testing group, Iometrix,
confirmed Tempe’s selection of the best product for the job in a recent
report published on Light Reading article entitled “Wireless Mesh:
Ready!” located at http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=96200.
was deemed that Strix OWS which utilizes sophisticated distributed
localized node intelligence (DLNI) via Strix DMA™, that it is, in fact,
the only mesh system scalable enough to handle the size of the network
with enough performance to handle the capacity and real-time
applications expected to be deployed on the network. As stated by many
Strix customers who have installed many wireless systems and have
performed exhaustive product tests, Strix offers the best performance,
outstanding value and significantly reduces operating costs as a result
of the architectures non-blocking performance. unlike competing mesh
products that use either single or dual radios, Strix’s Access/One OWS
supports up to six radios per node, providing dedicated high-speed
wireless bandwidth for backhaul ingress, backhaul egress, and client
connectivity. The Strix approach ensures the highest throughput and
lowest latency over the greatest number of wireless hops, ensuring the
highest performance for voice and video applications over the mesh
while enabling easy and cost-effective future network expansion.
the technology is the simple financial benefit of using Strix
products. In comparison to competing solutions, Strix products provide
a 6:1 cost savings. While CapEx may be equivalent for many mesh
products, the operating costs (OpEX) are the key. With Strix solution
operating costs are CUT IN HALF in comparison to any other mesh network
products. So the technical –PLUS- the financial benefits of the Strix
solution are an absolute hands-down WIN-WIN. Some will still try to
deploy cheap and/or dual and single radio solutions, but they are truly
missing out on the big picture. We wouldn’t be surprised if those
integrators go out of business trying to deploy a cheap solution that
will continue to require more and more costly backhauls in order to
keep customers satisfied.
There has been an overwhelming positive response from citizens,
students, and businesses (free service is a popular offering).
Municipal employees are finding efficiencies by using the network in
the field. Managing the enthusiasm and deploying the apps is the
challenge, the incumbent Telco’s have been rather silent, although
advertisements targeting WiFi users have surfaced, thousands of users
have subscribed to the network since January 2006 and more enjoy the
free service downtown. Midway into the project we were receiving 30 to
40 calls and/or emails a week asking for information. Today that
interest continues with support calls at a minimum. Interest from
other municipalities remains high as many want to see how its been
successfully done in Tempe.
impact compared to original goals, from the City’s perspective all
goals were met and the network is in full swing. National recognition
as an early technology adopter and pacesetter is a bonus and further
promotes Tempe as the “Smart place to be”. Strix Systems multi-radio
solution provides the robust wireless foundation supporting real-time
voice, video and data for our municipal and E-government services to
our public and enables us to reach a broader spectrum of our community,
and provides the foundation for new services to be delivered.