NEWTON, Mass.—Nortel is making a major push into municipal wireless networks to support its growing U.S. ambitions. This happens to fit in nicely with needs of municipalities pushing Wi-Fi in an effort to revitalize their downtown districts and shore up their tax base.
Its also a boon to local ISPs. In contrast to other players in this space, Nortel is partnering with local companies to establish a stronger local presence than if it adopted a go-it-alone approach.
Nortels municipal wireless group announced that it is implementing Wi-Fi networks in a dozen Colorado cities as well as the city of Greenville, N.C. In addition to providing a network for public services and emergency services, the Nortel effort includes plans for public broadband access.
The announcement, made at the MuniWireless conference here, is just the first move in what a Nortel spokesperson said is a new series of partnerships with local ISPs to move into muni wireless.
The networks in the Colorado cities, which include Fort Collins, Loveland and other cities along the Interstate 25 corridor, will be rolled out by Front Range Internet, a large Colorado ISP. The Greenville, N.C., implementation is being spearheaded by WindChannel Communications, which provides ISP services to Greenville and to East Carolina University, also located in the city.
The Nortel municipal wireless networks in both North Carolina and Colorado are designed to provide police and fire department with access to real-time information and provide a series of public service features such as meter reading and inspections. In addition, the Nortel municipal wireless network will provide public access broadband services in Greenvilles downtown area as well as at ECU. The Front Range implementations will give similar services to Colorado public safety operations as well as to users in the cities along I-25.
While a relative newcomer to the U.S. market, Nortel is no stranger to muni wireless. According to the Nortel spokesperson, Nortel operates major municipal networks in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Taipei City, Taiwan. The company has also begun placing muni wireless installations on trains, beginning with the Trinity Railway Express in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas.
In other news at MuniWireless, AllCity Wireless announced WiDirect, an integrated management, monitoring and billing appliance designed for municipal wireless public access providers. Philip McQuade, president of the Annapolis, Md., company, said that the new appliance began shipping on June 4. According to McQuade, the appliance dramatically simplifies the process of setting up a municipal wireless mesh network. The product supports self-registration and customer branding.