London Wi-Fi

The mayor of London has promised that ‘every lamppost and every bus stop will be WiFi enabled, before the 2012 Olympics, using existing wiring.

So far, no pricing plan has been announced, but 22 boroughs have already signed up to the scheme.

Back in 2007, the Square mile was blanketed with an outdoor WiFi network. But unlimited WiFi from the Cloud costs £9.99 per month for multiple devices while single units carry a cost of £6.99 per month.

Haven’t we heard this tune before?

City-wide WiFi failed due to the limited range of the interference prone 2.4 GHz band and the costs associated with interconnecting 40+ nodes per square mile. City-wide WiFi networks cost $100K per square mile. A 100 square mile area can easily cost $10 million to build — and still be unreliable. It didn’t pencil out. No ads. No subs.

Perhaps 802.16m will change all that. The secret sauce is multi-hop relay architecture and self-configuration. It enhances WiMax penetration using very low cost repeaters (relays). They’re essentially WiMax femtocells that can be relayed. The licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum has 200 Mhz of bandwidth (compared to 85 MHz for Wi-Fi).

Proponents of 802.16m relay architecture say it’s more reliable, has longer range, requires fewer nodes, and costs less per square mile than Wi-Fi. What’s not to like?

WiMAX 2.0 is made for municipal wireless networks. It could even be free (with ads).

Don’t think Google isn’t aware of the potential for 802.16m relay architecture on lamposts and bus stops. It only requires one radio — not two — and could also drive a small Wi-Fi node.

Some of RadioShack’s stores nationwide are being outfitted with Clearwire WiMAX repeaters, made by GS Instruments, just in time for the June 4th launch of the HTC EVO 4G phone.

The mayor was just playing politics with the Googlers — but 802.16m could make it real.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

Leave a Reply