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
    ex-wisp admin, 27 Dec 2006 @ 2:54am

    hobbiest network connection

    Bodhiguy is full of stuff! Starting with underpowered amps ... He may be able to illegally amplify his signal in the middle of nowhere, but the FCC will take notice of a public wifi sponsored by a municipality. Going to pretend he never mentioned down tilt ... Fresnel zone applies to point to point radio shots, what we are discussing here are point to multi-point connections... It's true that 900MHz is more line of sight tolerant than 2.4GHz, such a shame that the transferable bandwidth is so low. Bodhiguy should make friends with someone owning a spectrum analyzer, this way he would learn that the 900MHz spectrum is just as crowded(more so, in some areas).
    I know ... lets start using the ultra low frequencies that subs communicate with from under the ocean. Or better yet, perhaps packet by carrier pigeon!
    The bottom line is that wireless networking sucks to date for muni-hotspot applications. It may someday get there, but not by switching out radios using saturated lower band frequencies. For optimum performance it would also be nice to find an area devoid of weather ;-)

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