March 29, 2006

Burleson muni wi-fi to be built by.....Chevron??!?

Esme Vos at is reporting that Burleson will be building a wireless network for municipal operations and public access. The contractor, oddly enough, is Chevron Energy Solutions. That may seem like a strange choice until you realize that a key part of the project is automated water meter reading. That sounds like a good, albiet surprising fit, for an energy management company.

Update: Press release is here. (via Wireless Report)

Posted by chip at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 27, 2006

Harlingen moves forward on muni wireless

The City of Harlingen received a $500,000 TIF (Texas Infrastructure Fund) grant back in 2002 that was used to errect two sets of wireless broadcast towers. Now, the city is looking to move forward and expand their network coverage.

"The infrastructure is there," [Dawn] Quinn [Network and Telecommunications Director at Texas State Technical College] said. "Right now what we have are five places in the city connected to each other creating a network. What we want to do is provide more towers to reach further into the community and outer communities and provide a local Internet provider though TSTC."

Read the full article at the Valley Morning Star. (via Wireless Report)

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March 24, 2006

NOLA: Hands off our muni wi-fi

This is off our usual beat; it's not a Texas story but it's illustrative. During the Hurricane Katrina crisis, New Orleans setup a wireless mesh running at 512Kbps speed. Problem is that state law, while not completely outlawing muni networks, caps permitted speed at 128Kbps–about twice the speed of a dialup modem.

The local incumbent (BellSouth) is now prodding the state to enforce the law and shut down the network, even though thousands of New Orleaneans depend on it for access. And by access I don't just mean web surfing: VOIP over wireless is the only phone service available in many parts of the city.

The city is digging in.

Legal or not, [New Orleans CIO] Mr. Meffert said he and Mayor Ray Nagin plan to keep offering the service as long as they feel an emergency exists.

“If I have to go to jail, I guess I will,” he said. “If they really want to play that game, I guess they are right. But we simply cannot turn off these few lifelines we have to our city and businesses.”

Read the full article at Red Herring.

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March 22, 2006

Digital Houston RFP is Released

We noted previously that the City of Houston had released a draft RFP for the "Digital Houston Initiative," its city-wide wireless initiative.

This week, the city released the final RFP. The city seeks a partner to build and operate a city-wide wireless network. The "net neutrality" component we noted in the draft remains. The network operator will sell wholesale access to any provider who wants it, who in tern can offer services on the wireless network.

(Via Technology for All.)

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March 17, 2006

Austin announces Outdoor Wireless Mesh Project

Austin is currently one of the most unwired cities in the nation, achieved through a tapestry of hotspots. These numerous small zones, from city parks to cafes, make Wi-Fi access nearly ubiquitous.

This week, the City announce a plan to deploy large, wireless meshes to blanket parts of the city. The "Outdoor Wireless Mesh Project" would offer free access to the public.

Cisco Systems is donating the equipment. The network will be built in time for the upcoming World Congress on Information Technology. Afterwards, the City will manage the network.

For more information, see the press release and article in the Austin American-Statesman.

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February 23, 2006

Wi-Fi Options Explored in Corpus

From the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:

Local business and academic leaders met with city officials Wednesday to determine how best to work together to promote the city's wireless network—which some officials say could make Corpus Christi a global leader in the technology.

Corpus Christi has a web site with additional information on the project.

Read the full article (registration required).

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February 18, 2006

Second Annual National Summit for Community Wireless Networks

Late next month, there will be a summit for community wireless networks in St. Charles, MO.

The Summit is the largest gathering of community wireless networking developers, implementers and allies focused on building the alliance of technologists, policy experts, and implementers, and encouraging participants to discuss the great variety of challenges and opportunities facing the movement.

The participant list indicates there should be at least some Texans participating. It looks like a great opportunity for wireless supporters and implementers to meet.

Posted by chip at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 17, 2006

Houston releases draft RFP for city-wide Wi-Fi

The City of Houston is looking to get into ubitquitous Wi-Fi in a big way. Today, the City released a draft RFP soliciting companies to build a mixed-use, citywide network.

The draft explains the City's vision:

The City's vision is to apply ubiquitous, low-cost wireless Internet access as a foundation for the City of Houston to become the most efficient, effective and responsive city government in the nation—while stimulating economic development and promoting digital inclusion for low-income and disadvantaged residents.

It looks like Houston has chosen to follow the public/private partnership model that is becoming common. This allows the City to leverage its resources while reducing cost and risk to taxpayers.

One remarkable part of this proposal is that it explicitly embraces the concept of "net neutrality". The City will require that the operator open up the network to wholesale service, which would allow any ISP to particpate. Chalk that up to another exciting innovation that's being driven by muni networks.

Thanks to Dwight for the tip.

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February 15, 2006

Star-Telegram: Cities say Wi-Fi is necessity

The effort to outlaw muni networks failed in Texas, but that doesn't mean it's over. The issue is alive in Washington, where the Federal government is considering a rewrite of national telecom laws.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on the national effort to outlaw community Internet, even though it's happening in more and more Texas towns.

Is high-speed Internet access a basic utility that everybody should have access to, like water?

The question was thoroughly debated at a Senate hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Ask the question to officials from a growing number of North Texas cities, and their answer: yes.

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October 03, 2005

Market growth and advocacy at the Muni Wireless conference

At 150 people were expected, but over 350 people came to the San Francisco Muni Wireless conference.

At the keynote session, Esme Vos shared the results of a market study predicting a $400 million market by 2007. The point person on San Francisco's TechConnect project described the goals of Mayor Newsom's plan to unwire the city.

Jim Baller and Harold Feld put the policy issues in the context of a long fight against incumbent-led restrictions, and the related need for open spectrum.

In a breakout session Laura Arnold of Indiana and I talked about defeating state-level muni broadband bans. In Indiana, the municipal association came out against the bill early, and it died a quiet death. In Texas the fight was longer and tougher, but strong support from the high-tech industry and Texas communities prevented the passage of a municipal broadband ban.

It was great to hear the cheers in the room responding to a vision of connectivity for all, and it was encouraging to hear the shared assumption that governments have the right and the duty to provide civic infrastructure.

Posted by alevin at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)