London will become one of the world’s leading wireless cities, the Westminster Council said today as it cut the ribbon on a project to turn the West End into a Wi-Fi zone for equipped with cameras for city workers.
Unstrung Reports WiMax will be a big part of it.
Intel shared its plans at today’s launch of the “Wireless City” project — a joint partnership with Cisco Systems and Westminster. It involves the rollout of a public 802.11b (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) network within the London district (see Westminster Goes Wireless).
The group is in the process of extending a small trial project in the Soho area of central London that provides limited hotspot coverage to the public and links closed circuit cameras to a central network to enable local security monitoring.
Westminster City Council will be one of the first users of this technology anywhere in the world, claims the vendor s director of IT Innovation, Martin Curley. It is our plan to cover large metro areas with WiMax technology. We want to unlock the last mile without the need for fiber.
The Westminster plan will allow parking meter attendants, cleaners, noise inspectors and other council workers to access council systems via 802.11-equipped handheld terminals in real-time, in the field. The scheme, revealed by The Register over a year ago, is being extended from an initial test – put in place last September. It now extends to the whole of Soho, bordered by Shafesbury Ave, Regent Street, Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road.
The overall cost of the Westminster 4G project, including extending coverage to the whole of Westminster, will be in the order of 15 million. Westminster expects to have the infrastructure in place within the next six to nine months. Westminster will use the zone initially to connect noise-monitoring and CCTV cameras without the need to rip up the region’s paving and lay down cables or partner with a service provider.
The motivation is primarily financial. The other key advantage is mobility. The WLAN supports mobile cameras and makes it easier to move cameras to better meet police needs, for example.
Ultimately, the Council wants to offer commercial services, but Rogers admitted that would require a different regulatory framework to permit local government to operate as a commercial entity.
It’s for that reason that the WLAN will remain private, Rogers said.
Rival WiFi providers have expressed dismay at the prospect, predicting that access point overload will quickly follow. There are already dozens of freelance WiFi zones in the area, including Starbucks and BT OpenZone nodes, not to mention even more accidental access points provided by employees in the area, who have installed their own access points on corporate LANs.
A few small companies in the UK have launched Wi-Fi-based rural broadband Internet services. Most, like Shere Broadband, are community-oriented projects headed by enthusiasts. Telabria will provide high-speed Internet access to rural communities in Britain using Wi-Fi-based mesh network technology Telabria is committed, at least for now, to Wi-Fi-based mesh technology, though it is keeping its options open as far as vendors go. It used mesh network equipment from WaveWireless for the first three communities.
Four WiMax trials are being conducted by British Telecom in rural parts of the UK and may be the prelude to a full-scale deployment of WiMax in Britain. Officials have awarded 38 fixed-wireless broadband licences, which will result in the roll out of 3.5GHz services to towns and rural areas. BT may eventually offer WiMax to urban users.