Roadside Wireless Assistance

eWeek is running a story about plans in the UK to build a wireless roadside telematics system using WiFi mesh networks based on technology from Last Mile Communications. They want to install about 150,000 wireless access points on street lamps and traffic lights. Some will tap into the power source for those lights, while others will use solar power. Each access point will communicate with others, forming a standard wireless mesh. Using street lights to create a wireless mesh isn’t particularly new. What’s interesting here is the business model. The entire point of the system is to use it for telematics (in-car computing) applications that are growing increasingly popular – but which need good wireless backhaul. However, once the system is deployed and vehicles are using it – there will still be a ridiculous amount of bandwidth available, and they hope to partner with ISPs to offer access to quite a few hotspots near major roads. What’s unclear from the article however, is how WiFi fits into this. From the description of the wireless technology, it doesn’t sound like WiFi at all – but that they may include WiFi on top of their own technology. Update: Guy Kewney has more details. The system is definitely not WiFi, but is designed to work with WiFi and act as the higher speed backhaul connection. The other interesting part of all of this is that each access point will have local memory that stores much of the data that is regularly requested.

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