Another Muni WiFi Network Gets An Early Thumbs Down

from the good-idea-bad-execution dept

Earlier this month, the city of Corpus Christi, Texas launched its municipal WiFi network, which its vendor said was the largest of its kind, covering more than 100 square miles. However, like some other muni WiFi projects, early reviews don't sound too encouraging -- complaints echoed earlier this month in Portland as well. It's the same sort of thing early users in other cities have reported: weak signal strength, low speeds and difficulty connecting. Many of these problems occur when people try to use the services indoors (as one does), highlighting one of the drawbacks of using WiFi for this type of application: it doesn't penetrate buildings well, particularly when the router's at some distance away. Many of the network vendors say users need to buy repeaters to overcome this, something that takes away some of the "free" aspect of these networks, as well as something that takes away from their attraction to visitors. While we remain bullish on the general idea of municipal broadband, it's still not clear at all that WiFi is the best way to deliver it. Many of the muni WiFi "success stories" raise as many questions as they answer, and the truth of how well these networks are working remains pretty muddy. Again, municipal broadband is an idea with a lot of merit, but it looks like a lot of muni-WiFi rollouts are based on the wrong reasons, and are possibly just using the wrong technology.

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  1. identicon
    Rick, 25 Jan 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Corpus Christi Wi-Fi Update

    Here is an update on the situation in Corpus Christi... After using (more like trying to use) the Wi-Fi network as configured above, it's an absolute failure.

    Today is a sunny clear day, the network was connect at 11mbs with a strong signal and perhaps 100 packets come through every 10 minutes. On a foggy or rainy day it can zip along at 2mb - 11mb no problem. There is no logic or reason as to when, how or why the network works.

    To tell you the truth, I'm not sure the network is really finished (or perhaps the contractor told them it's finished when it's really not). A casual glance at many locations shows several routers (repeaters) with coiled wires and hanging connectors - connected to nothing.

    The other question I have, based on the connection speeds, signal strength and lack of packets - How many points do they have connected into a backbone? If they only have a few in a city of almost 150 square miles it will do nothing but create a giant clog no matter how many routers you have. To me that's what I see.

    Pay $30.00 a month for this? I wouldn't pay $1.00 for this. It is totally unreliable. When you need to send or receive e-mail, look up something on the web now - who will want to wait until the network gets around to working.

    I even read that Earthlink may want to take this over. Good luck on that! They better have about 100,00 customer services representatives to deal with the complaints. If they try to pass it off as "problems with your computer" forget it. This is definitely a packet flow issue across the wireless network. It is either not fully working or poorly designed.

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