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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Sunday, May 11, 2003


Benton Public Utility District to offer broadband wireless in Kennewick, Washington area

Benton Public Utility District to offer broadband wireless in Kennewick, Washington area

Article on 802.11 Planet's web site

"The access points, from YDI Wireless , are encased in heated, weatherproof boxes that connect directly to the fiber going to the Internet. They were installed at the power poles by Lockheed-Martin Information Technology, the system integrator for the project. "

The writer of this article pans using fiber for last mile access as many of the other public utility districts in Washington are doing, saying it's as costly "as a Hollywood studio movie".

Fiber Planners is evaluating wireless broadband (and powerline broadband) for some of the municipal utilities for whom we've designed fiber backbones; some are unwilling to take on the political hurdles of deploying fiber to the home (FTTH) networks. Wireless broadband has its' place, but aside from the general lack of objectivity in this article, I would point out the following:

1. Anyone deploying wireless (or optical) electronics in heated enclosures on power poles is installing the wrong gear and should rethink their plans.

2. Lockheed-Martin does a great job building fighter aircraft but with their high corporate overheads, I question whether they can design a system for a utility as inexpensively as a smaller wireless broadband specialist such as Maplenet.

3. The article describes the cost of putting up transmitters for a small, 8 square mile area as being under $500,000 -- no mention is made of the per-subscriber cost. Several utilities I met at the recent powerline broadband demo in Missouri were dissatisfied with their existing wireless broadband networks because of interference from trees and the per-subscriber cost (over $1000 in some cases) to set up antennas and wireless gear at subscriber locations.

Fortunately Kennewick is in the desert, so trees shouldn't cause as much interference as they do in non-desert areas.


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