City-Wide WiFi Planned In Minnesota

Add Chaska, Minnesota to the growing list of municipalities planning to offer Broadband Wireless Access through specialized WiFi systems. The USA Today article discusses how Tropos will blanked the suburb of Chaska with coverage for an estimated price of $18/mo. Some of the advantages Tropos brings to the solution are proprietary technologies that mitigate interference issues, and a methodology of partnering with the municipality. The latter strategy offers cheap access to city property and electricity for access point deployment, such as on street light standards. Contrast this with the community backlash common when new cellular towers are deployed. But despite the advantages of low cost equipment, free spectrum, and access to facilities, a Wide-area WiFi standard bucks the design characteristics of the technology. Wireless LAN, after all is a Local Area Network. While interference can be reliably managed within a home, enterprise, or warehouse, it is much more difficult to handle all the possible sources of interference out of doors. In many cases, we’ve heard of a WiFi-based WISP having their service knocked out of the air by a later-deployed 2.4GHz service (Motorola’s “Canopy” system is know for punting 802.11 based systems). For chiefly this reason, I have my doubts about wide-area WiFi businesses (and I am quoted in the linked USA Today article). I think Tropos will get a run for its money from Wireless Wide Area Technologies such as UMTS TDD from IP Wireless, Flash-OFDM from Flarion, and others (not WiMAX, since that is neither mobile nor portable). Tropos’ best bet is to leverage their experience working with municipal governments, but that’s an advantage that doesn’t scale well.

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