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Community Wireless Networks Combine Wi-Fi & WiMax

By Rob 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 citizens.

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 networks.

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 crews.
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 compete.

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 Internet at http://www.webtalkguys.com/. Greenlee is also a member of the The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.


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