Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rhode Island embarks on statewide wireless network

Quoth CNN:

Rhode Island embarks on statewide wireless network:

"Rhode Island seeks to be wireless state
In an effort to woo Boston's businesses, nation's smallest state wants border-to-border Internet access.
April 28, 2006: 4:41 PM EDT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - America's smallest state is seeking to become its first to offer a wireless broadband network from border to border.

Backers of Rhode Island's $20 million project say it would improve services and make the state a testing ground for new business technologies.

It also comes at a time when Rhode Island's capital of Providence is stepping up efforts to lure business from Boston, about a 50-minute drive away, in neighboring Massachusetts, where office rents are among the nation's most expensive.

The Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RI-WINs) should be fully in place by 2007, providing wireless connectivity throughout state, whose land mass of about 1,045 square miles is only slightly more than double the size of metropolitan Los Angeles.

A pilot project involving state agencies, Brown University and businesses is to begin next month.

The Rhode Island network is a hybrid of WiMAX and WiFi technologies that would deliver real-time connections at a minimum speed of 1 megabit per second (Mbps), allowing users to download a typical Hollywood-length film in about 100 minutes. The system will be supported by 120 base antennas placed throughout the state.

A few antennas, each about 3 feet to 4 feet in height, are being placed in Providence and Newport on the southern coast during the initial tests.

So far, no state outside Rhode Island has sought to build a border-to-border network, said Bob Panoff, a private consultant and the RI-WINs project manager. While more cities are interested in becoming wireless, McClure said, 'there's no groundswell of consumer support for it.'"

Forgive the gigantic quoted text - I was playing with the "BlogThis!" plugin for FireFox. CNN has followed up the story here going into further detail. Apparently, the Rhode Island WiFi network will involve over 120 antennas and promises throughput of a thoroughly lousy 1 mpbs. For what it's worth, when I bought my wireless card, I found no fewer than three unsecured wireless networks to jump onto at 10 mpbs or better, and I live in what can charitably be called a working class neighborhood. While the goal of going border to border is impressive, the final product the state is looking to deliver is completely underwhelming.

Still, it's nice to beat Delaware to the punch ...

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