[Chtechcomm] Cisco enters citywide wireless market

Terri Buckner tbuckner at ibiblio.org
Wed Nov 16 09:18:43 EST 2005

      *Just in case anyone was wondering why we had a Cisco rep at last
      night's meeting....*

      Cisco enters citywide wireless market

 From /CNet News.com/ 
November 15, 2005
By Marguerite Reardon

Cisco Systems will throw its hat into the municipal Wi-Fi ring on 
Tuesday when it announces wireless-network product enhancements that 
extend its technology into outside deployments.

Cisco has developed a new series of access points, called the Cisco 
Aironet 1500 Series, that can be used for citywide Wi-Fi deployments. 
These new access points can be deployed on rooftop, light posts and 
power poles.

To maximize capacity, each access point is equipped with two radios. One 
radio uses a radio frequency protocol called Adaptive Wireless Path 
Protocol for access-point-to-access-point communications. The other 
radio is used to provide bandwidth to users.

Cisco is already the dominant supplier of wireless local-area networking 
equipment in the home market—through its Linksys product line—and in the 
enterprise market as well.

The new access points will use “mesh” technology to communicate with 
each other and find the best path for traffic traveling through the 
wireless network.

“The wireless market is moving from the home and enterprise to the 
outdoors,” said Alan Cohen, senior director in Cisco’s wireless 
networking business unit. “It was the next logical step for us.”

The market for citywide wireless networks is enormous, analysts have 
said. Cities of all sizes across the United States view Wi-Fi as a cost 
effective answer to many of their communication problems.

Some cities, like Philadelphia and San Francisco, plan to use wireless 
broadband technology as a low-cost solution to providing broadband 
access to low-income residents.

Other cities see Wi-Fi as a great technology for building new 
public-safety networks and for connecting various buildings where city 
agencies are housed.

And still others believe that free Wi-Fi networks in public places could 
boost economic development by drawing more people to the city.

“The market is really huge,” said Craig Mathias, an analyst with 
Farpoint Group of Ashland, Mass. “Most municipalities could find some 
use for Wi-Fi, whether that’s for providing commercial broadband to 
residents or for government purposes. The door is wide open right now.”

Cisco’s entrance into the market is a sign of this opportunity. Until 
this point, small start-ups, such as Tropos Networks and BelAir 
Networks, have been supplying cities with equipment.

EarthLink, which won the bid to build Philadelphia’s network, is using 
equipment from Tropos, and so are 249 other customers, including the 
city of Anaheim, Calif.

“We’ve already been in this market for five years,” said Ron Sege, CEO 
of Tropos. “Cisco will have to go through that entire learning curve. It 
takes time, even if you are Cisco. You can’t buy experience.”

Cisco’s Cohen said he is ready to take on the start-ups. The company 
didn’t compete in the Philadelphia bidding process because its 
technology wasn’t ready at the time, he said.

But the company is competing for the San Francisco contract. And Cisco 
has already managed to rack up nearly a dozen wins of its own, including 
deployments in Dayton, Ohio, and Lebanon, Ore.

“For a while, the start-ups have been the only alternative for 
communities building Wi-Fi networks,” Cohen said. “But now we’re here.”

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