Community Wireless Networks Combine Wi-Fi &
Greenlee, Host / Founder WebTalkGuys Radio
Wednesday, September 1, 2004; 5:00pm EST
Recently I met with the economic
development director for a smaller city in south Seattle who expressed
a strong interest in building a huge city wide Wi-Fi network. The
reason stated to build this free public wireless network is to enhance
the image of the city to new potential businesses and high-income
This city is reinventing itself by doing a massive model of its
downtown business and retail core so it can become more attractive as
a retail and employment core, thus attracting more retail dollars and
jobs to the local community.
Studies are showing that residents of small cities would prefer to
live, work and shop in their local home community.
Smaller cities typically haven�t really had strong employment bases or
retail sectors. Most smaller cities don't have larger shopping malls,
but larger cities that are snarled with congested traffic have them.
The thing that is starting to hurt these giant malls is that they are
often congested with traffic and require driving a distance from the
smaller city residential communities.
People want to stay closer to home and don't want to fight the
congestion of people and traffic to get to the large major malls. This
is driving up the demand for smaller city or community shopping malls.
The other major impact will be the continued growth of online commerce
as we are seeing the retail promise of the dot-com e-tailer boom times
starting to come true.
High-speed cable and wireless Internet has the ultimate ability to
make the world smaller and more globally connected while at the same
time resulting in less of a real need to travel much from our local
home communities for work or family life.
This growing traffic congestion problem in and around our major cities
is starting to put pressure on small residential cities to become more
self-sufficient with all needed shopping and lifestyle amenities
within walking distance. This is because people are getting very tired
of delays and congestion.
I believe high-speed Internet cable and broadband wireless access is a
big part of filling this need.
Another driving factor is a general growing feeling that the world
outside of our close communities is dangerous to us because of the
risk of terrorism, deadly viruses and random violence.
I believe that all of these factors are playing a large part in the
growing importance of the Internet and general community data
The next major area of impact is the combination of wireless Internet
and wireless access to locally based services and information that
will cause these community-based wireless networks to really have a
positive impact on our lives in our local home communities.
The other major area of interest by smaller cities is the instant data
connectivity to field services like police, fire and city maintenance
In a few years we will also see more Wi-Fi and WiMax networks as these
types of networks grow in size and enable high-speed city wide
wireless connectivity to city-related content on what is being called
Community Wireless Networks (CWN) or Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN).
One of the largest Community Wireless Networks is Seattle Wireless.
These networks are similar to the growing number of underground
municipal or city owned fiber optic networks that cities are now
building all across the U.S.
The big difference between a fiber optic network and a wireless
network is speed of deployment and cost. Low relative cost and
economic development are the key drivers for city-owned wireless
networks. Wi-Fi or the more expensive WiMax networks can cover up to
30 miles for very low cost compared to very expensive fiber networks.
The community Wi-Fi networks could be free, but the higher speed WiMax
community network would need to be a paid network. WiMax subscribers
within this 30 mile range would possibly pay somewhere around $ 20 to
$30 per month to the originating community network for getting
wireless broadband to mobile devices and fixed receivers mounted on
the tops of building and homes. These fixed receivers would then
redistribute the broadband service via in home Wi-Fi access points.
It is not a land grab anymore, but a grab for wireless air space that
will count the most in just a few short years. Those cities that are
just starting to build fiber networks may be too late to the game to
About Source of Article
Rob Greenlee is Founder and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show.
WebTalkGuys, a Seattle-based talk show featuring technology news and
interviews. It is broadcast on WebTalkGuys Radio, Sonic Box, via
Pocket PC at Mazingo Networks and the telephone via the Mobile
Broadcast Network. It's on the radio in Seattle at KLAY 1180 AM
and KVTI 90.9 FM. Past show and interviews are also webcast via the
http://www.webtalkguys.com/. Greenlee is also a member of the The
International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.