Rio Rancho Boasts First Metro VOWi-Fi Service

The Rio Rancho Wi-Fi/WiMax mobile phone network, the first to take advantage of a metro wireless network, will compete with traditional mobile phone carriers.

Carrier-class voice-over-Wi-Fi telephone service, the first of its kind in a U.S. metro deployment, is now available in Rio Rancho, N.M.

The service, developed by Azulstar Networks and its partner, Ecuity Advanced Communications Inc., offers carrier-class fixed and mobile service and will be available on the Rio Rancho network, which now covers about 60 percent of the city.

Azulstar announced the new service at the W2i Digital Cities conference in Philadelphia. The service is designed to provide a cost-effective IP-based alternative to traditional "local loop" service provided by telecommunications companies.

Jim Palenick, a Rio Rancho city administrator, said he expects the new service to make Rio Rancho "a model for city-wide Wi-Fi and the premier digital city."

"By partnering with governments, technology leaders and other service providers, we are able to quickly design and deploy Wi-Fi/WiMax mobile networks and services like the one weve deployed in Rio Rancho," said Azulstar CEO Tyler van Houwelingen.

"As more cities follow Rio Ranchos lead, its going to have a profound impact on telco and wireless industry dynamics," he said. The citys Wi-Fi "cloud" will support mobile calls up to 55 m.p.h. Roaming in and out of cellular CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks will be added later this year.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here for more news from the W2i Digital Cities conference.

Rio Ranchos network is a converged voice, data and video solution. It uses 200 high-performance Meru Network Wi-Fi access points provided by Meru Networks Inc., connected to a pre-WiMax backbone from Proxim Corp. that provides the backhaul to Azulstars NOC (network operations center) and the Internet. Ecuity provides call transport onto the traditional phone network and vice versa.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead Carol Ellisons commentary here about the need for muni Wi-Fi in the United States.

The service is available to businesses, residences and mobile phone users in the 505 area code, and current phone numbers will be portable. Caller ID, call forwarding, voice mail over e-mail, multiparty calling, call waiting and Web-based call control manager features are also available. It will sell to consumers for $29.95 per line for unlimited calling in the United States and Canada. Business Service, which adds fax, four-digit intercompany calling and other features, will also be available.