The city hopes its $26 million investment in wireless and fiber optic networks will pay off by generating revenue for the city. The Lompoc City Council approved a contract to install the city-wide system on September 21, 2004, with a completion date of December 31, 2004. Testing and training is scheduled to begin right after New Year’s Day.
The City will deploy some 130 Tropos meshed access points, each with a range of about 300 feet. Other cities using Tropos equipment on live networks currently include Half Moon Bay and San Mateo, Calif., and Chaska, Minn.
Mark McKibben, owner of McKibben Consulting, the marketing firm which conducted the feasibility study that convinced the city to green light the multi-million dollar project, is also acting as Project Manager. He says the city is devising its own unique business model as it goes.
Lompoc will not be getting into the business of supplying hardware to its subscribers. “Right now, the business model we call for the customer to acquire their own equipment,” says McKibben. “That’s different than Chaska; they are providing the card that goes in the computer. We are going to work with local retailers and companies that can provide the equipment.”
McKibben says his feasibility study clearly demonstrated that there exists an interested user base in this community. The Lompoc Utility Department is counting on signing up more than 4,000 subscribers in the first 18 months to two years.
The Tropos Wi-Fi cell system is composed of the Tropos 5110 outdoor, the Tropos 4210 mobile and Tropos 3110 indoor WiFi cell. All Tropos units run the Tropos Sphere embedded NOS and can be managed using Tropos Control, the industry’s first purpose-built element manager for metro-scale Wi-Fi networks. Tropos’ newest mesh equipment is based on 802.11g.
Pricing for the service hasn’t yet been announced, but McKibben promises rates that are competitive, and no roaming charges will be incurred while users are inside the city network. Once the system is deployed early next year, users should be able to maintain seamless Wi-Fi access anywhere within the 5.5 square mile area of the city.
“You will be able to drive around town and keep your connection going,” says McKibben. “You could have a laptop in a police car and they could be driving around accessing the network while they’re driving. The network does a handoff.”
Tropos recently announced a new high performance, high powered mobile Wi-Fi cell, the Tropos 4210 for in-vehicle deployment. Oklahoma City plans to use the 4210 in vehicles in their 400 square mile city cloud.
Lompoc, with a population of 40,000, is located just north of Santa Barbara on the state’s central coast, next to Vandenberg Air Force Base “So there are literally satellite and rocket scientists who hang around the Lompoc area.”
Since the Lompoc’s citywide service will only be available inside city limits, the planners are looking at ways to allow their customers to “roam” on other networks when they travel to other towns and cities.
Tropos says their PWRP routes traffic wirelessly, effectively eliminating up to 95% of the wired backhaul requirements associated with traditional access points. Tropos is also integrating WiMAX into new and existing metro-scale Wi-Fi networks.