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Lovely WiFi Meter Maid

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LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
7/29/2004

Wireless LAN mesh player Tropos Networks is in the process of unwiring another city in the U.S.

This time it is Corpus Christie in Texas, where the startup is setting up a pilot wireless LAN mesh network in an 18.5 square mile area of the city. The network is eventually intended to cover 147 square miles and be used by public safety agencies, government workers, and utlities.

Tropos, along with startup rivals like Locust World and BelAir Networks, is trying to push the concept of metro-scale wireless LAN mesh networks. Which is very nice and all, but the most interesting thing about this rollout is probably the initial applications it will be used for: automated wireless meter reading.

This got us at Unstrung wondering. How on Earth do you wirelessly enable a gas, electricity, or water meter? Hardly the most high-tech of devices... and wouldn't it be rather expensive to add WiFi to each one?

Well, it turns out you don't slap an 802.11 card on each one. Instead the meters have been fitted with a cheap, little, low-frequency (900MHz) radio, which sends the information to a central unit called an automatic meter reader (AMR) concentrator. These are the devices that are being fitted with 802.11 and which transmit the usage data back to the utilities.

The point of the service is that it will of course be cheaper to wirelessly poll the meters than to send actual humans out to read them.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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Honda_Elise
Honda_Elise
12/5/2012 | 1:24:34 AM
re: Lovely WiFi Meter Maid
From today's Wi-Fi Networking News

Grand Haven, Michigan, Cuts the Cord

Grand Haven, Mich., makes splash with full-city Wi-Fi coverage: This seems like yet another city announcement, but it might be the first city with this scale of access that 100-percent live and commercially available. (Dissenters, please write in.) While there are plans for Cerritos, Santa Clara, and Chaska (Minnesota) to have full coverage, Grand Haven may have beaten them to full deployment. (Take a look at this excellent page designed by Ottawa WirelessGăÍs PR firm: itGăÍs exactly the kind of clueful PR that should be encouraged: heGăÍs putting his moneyGă÷or mapsGă÷where his mouth is.)

The folks at Ottawa Wireless sent out a press release full of the technical details, such as their support for 802.11a, b, and g, and the fact that their service extends 15 miles into Lake Michigan, providing access for boaters and marinas. The coverage extends six square miles across the town, and itGăÍs optimized to handle VoIP; a beta test is in progress right now that will cost $30 per month for unlimited calling nationwide.

The service has 300 subscribers at its formal launch out of a local population of 12,000. However, th town sees two millionGă÷yes, millionGă÷visitors a year. Customers include the city, and public safety and health groups will eventually use the network.

Ottawa Wireless cleverly layers applications and specific performance statements on top of its network, providing VPN, wireless video monitoring, and what they call 55 mph accessGă÷even while youGăÍre speeding across the lake, you can still use Wi-Fi.

Service costs $20 per month for 256 Kbps, $45 for 512 Kbps, and $80 for 1 Mbps access. Day rates run from $5 for a single day to $17 for seven days (less than $2.50 per day), obviously aimed at the vacationer who spends a week or several weeks in town or on the lake.

For $25 per month, you can get unlimited in-town roaming as a plan, or, if you spend $200 upfront, you get 256 Kbps service in your home, plus a home wireless network, and unlimited roaming. ThatGăÍs a good bundle. The 512 Kbps and 1 Mbps business services include one account for unlimited in-town roaming.

My friends and colleagues Richard and Angie recently passed through Grand Haven as part of their 8,000-mile RV trip and vouched for the service.
bradleymon
bradleymon
12/5/2012 | 1:24:25 AM
re: Lovely WiFi Meter Maid
Very exciting to see Ottawa Wireless implement a city-wide hot spot project. We need more cities across the country with complete Wi-Fi coverage.

However, it is entirely incorrect and inaccurate to state that Chaska, MN is not in full deployment. In fact, the entire 16 square mile footprint of the city is covered with ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage. This deployment, from concept to complete coverage, took less than 8 weeks to complete (including BETA user testing). Additionally, users have the ability to roam anywhere in the city seamlessly; no re-association with the network is required, unlike a large-scale access point deployment. This unlimited mobility also allows transparent roaming ACROSS IP SUBNETS of the network. These aren't plans for mobility, nor are they mobility theories. These features are operational throughout the entire city of Chaska today.

Chaska.net offers users true broadband (1-3 Mbps SYMMETRICAL) for only $15.99/month. In only four weeks, the WISP has signed up over 1,500 subscribers to their service...a full 20% of the homes in town. And, this is an area that is already well served by cable and DSL operators.

So, again, it is very exciting to see more cities like Grand Haven deploy metro-scale wireless. Congratulations on the deployment. But please, check your facts before you post erroneous information.

I hope my city is next!
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