By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2004-10-29 Print this article Print

-private tradeoffs"> The city has worked out a license agreement with Ottawa Wireless that resembles a cable television franchise in some ways. The city gives Ottawa Wireless access to public right of way. In return, Ottawa Wireless will pay a fee for being allowed to operate in the city. Palenick said that the fee is 3 percent of the gross after the company receives $100,000 gross per month. That fee goes up to 5 percent for revenues between $300,000 and $500,000. Once monthly revenues reach $500,000, the fee goes to 7 percent.

Van Houwelingen said that he expects his company to start seeing significant revenues early on. He noted that the basic rate for a fixed wireless installation would be $19.95 per month for access speeds of 256K bps. A mobile wireless user would pay $5 more per month. Higher speeds are available at higher rates.

Van Houwelingen said that his company can implement the citywide Wi-Fi network quickly because relatively little infrastructure is needed. Each of the Wi-Fi POPs has a wireless backhaul connection provided through a Proxim microwave link working over a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint connection. He said that this allows the company to add POPs as needed, and to seamlessly provide upgrades and improvements as necessary.

Click here to read about technology advances that should produce improve Wi-Fi repeaters in 2005. Van Houselingen said that he expects the service to be very popular with individuals and businesses, in part because it will be very inexpensive to put into place. He said that most people with computers that are already capable of using Wi-Fi can simply start using the service once its running. He also said that Ottawa Wireless would be providing Wi-Fi-to-Ethernet bridges for those with a need for wired access, or for companies that needed to have separate networks.

"This might force other service providers to break down their costs," said Julie Ask, senior analyst for JupiterResearch in San Francisco. Ask also said that winning a significant portion of the business in Rio Rancho could be an uphill battle. "I think its going to be hard to unseat an incumbent," she said. "All they have to do is lower their price and the game has changed."

Ask said that while Ottawa Wireless is offering an attractive price, existing DSL and cable providers are providing much higher quality connections. In addition, she noted that these organizations already have call centers and customer service. "The economics arent clear in terms of the cost," she said.

On the other hand, Ask noted that the Rio Rancho implementation is the only one with a clear timeline. She also felt that the fact that this had the backing of the city was important. "Its good that the cities feel its important that their citizens have access to broadband. We will see more of this," she said.

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Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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