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WiMax, Wireless Mesh & Muni Networks

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Only the most hardened Chicago School economist might harbor doubts that municipality-inspired wireless cities are a Good Thing. Most people see many benefits worldwide for a wireless city, ranging from narrowing the digital divide and bringing broadband benefits to a wider population, through mobile VOIP and home learning, to caring for the elderly. Benefits to the municipality itself include reduced recurring expenses, increased efficiency, safer streets (with CCTV, for example), improved connectivity for schools, and many benefits for police, fire, and emergency management systems. With a wireless network, either unlicensed or licensed, these public-safety divisions can have access to real-time data at either fixed installations or via mobile equipment, improving the safety of the community.

Many municipalities, however, don’t want to get into the business of being network operators, both constructing and operating their own networks. Instead, they would much rather help to get the project started (contributing a mix of initial funding, wayleaves, real estate, street furniture for equipment mounting, and so on) but rely on a commercial partner to complete the full project and run the network and services, with the municipality providing the key anchor customer to help make the scheme commercially viable initially.

Because this approach involves two parties, the business case for both has to work, and this puts particular pressure on the network ROI, as the municipality will obviously be looking for savings on its communications and other costs, while the operator partner will want to minimize capital and operational expenditures. This leads directly to the choice of an appropriate wireless network technology.

This might seem to be a direct choice between the established WiFi and the newer, upcoming WiMax, but an alternative is to consider using both. The aim of this report is to look at how WiMax and WiFi mesh technologies can be used in combination to create high-speed, low-cost, citywide access networks. Here’s a hyperlinked contents list:


This report is based on a Webinar, WiMax, Wireless Mesh & Muni Networks, moderated by Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst, Unstrung Insider, and sponsored by Proxim Wireless Corp. An archive of the Webinar may be viewed free of charge by clicking here. Related Webinar archives:

— Tim Hills is a freelance telecommunications writer and journalist. He's a regular author of Light Reading reports.

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12/5/2012 | 2:59:10 PM
re: WiMax, Wireless Mesh & Muni Networks
I have been pushing this concept of Mixed Municipal MESH networks for two years now with Cisco. Having developed an actual working business model that allows the municipality the time to show both positive ROI and spend minimal output of dollars and resources to administer and maintain the network, the need for a network that supports both the density of users in Pico Cell environments in urban areas and Macro Cell environments in rural areas was a choke point for the deployment of most cities. Add to these the need for adequate backhaul services, and you could see the problems that cities have been experiencing. Recent advances in WiFi MESH technologies and WiMax emerging finally into the light, a truly mixed network is finally on the horizon. Imagine backhaul anywhere you need it via WiMax, dense deployments of Wi-Fi MESH APs in urban areas, and 802.16e mobile WiMax for rural areas and you can see where broadband anywhere and everywhere is beginning to take shape. The next generation of client devices will have to have technology selection intelligence to connect to the best network connection that it sees and just like magic, you have a connection for fast, secure content anywhere. Next worry, the carriers and how they respond to the perceived business threat of VoFi to their investments for mobile phone technologies. Stay tuned! The legal battles shall begin shortly.
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