Riverside, Calif

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2007-09-10 Print this article Print

."> Riverside, Calif. Riverside, Calif., is implementing muni Wi-Fi to ensure that all citizens are being served. The muni Wi-Fi network, still under construction, is an extension of Riversides community-oriented computing initiative. "In the late 90s, we started with a project called Riverside Community Online," said Michael Beck, assistant city manager. "It created a consolidated portal for the city and related entities, and one of its initiatives was computer training and providing computers for low-income households."
Beck said the next step was providing free Wi-Fi to the community. "We focused on the downtown," he said. "We created the downtown wireless mall, which was free Wi-Fi in the downtown corridor, and that eventually was expanded to 27 blocks. Then we expanded to citywide Wi-Fi."
Creating a citywide Wi-Fi network is beyond the means of most local governments, so Beck called in the experts. "AT&T is providing access to the entire city for free—up to 512K bps—supported by advertising," he said. "People can pay for faster access—up to 3M bps." Beck said that in addition to the public Wi-Fi network, AT&T is installing a public service network that operates on 4.9GHz. The city will be paying for this network. "We pay for each connection or radio we install," Beck said. "Its entirely data. It includes police, fire, public utilities, public works and code enforcement. The 4.9GHz [band] will be used for wireless cameras." The city of Riverside serves as a model deployment for AT&T. "Riverside is our first deployment," said Ebrahim Keshavarz, AT&Ts assistant vice president of product marketing for business development, in Bedminster, N.J. "We design, build, own and operate our networks. Riverside is the current model of metro Wi-Fi. The citys responsibility is to provide power and poles, to give us permitting, and to give us applications and revenues as an anchor tenant. "What we bring to the table is design work about where we will bring assets, access points and access to the network already in the city," Keshavarz added. "We provide access to a 2.4GHz network for citizens and a 4.9GHz network for public services. These access points use a mesh model to reach larger access points that have wired access." The Riverside network is still being built, but so far the results are promising, Beck said. "AT&T is actively installing the radios now," he said. "Were at about 50 percent on the equipment installation—2 square miles have been live since May. The entire system will be installed by the end of the year, fully operational." Beck said the city has some advantages over other similar communities. "One of the advantages that Riverside has is that we own our own electric utility," he said. "We have our own fiber, and were able to do our own backhaul using the fiber. A wireless system eventually has to get back on to glass, or the wireless system will slow to a crawl. Most people dont understand that." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

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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