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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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Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Illinois: Limited interference between new wireless ISP and Murphysboro's municipal wireless network

In Illinois, Jackson County and Murphysboro officials so far are seeing some interference problems for their own wireless data networks from the town's new wireless ISP, Allied Access, but they've been far fewer than originally expected. The local newspaper has a long article looking at some of the issues; it's interesting to read. Some excerpts:
"The 2.4 GHz band is unregulated by the Federal Communications Commission, so there is little recourse for either the city or Allied Access if they interfere with each other.

[Allied Access president] Ellison said problems should be minimized if everybody works together to fine-tune their systems. He also said the city and other government entities should switch over to one of the radio bands that are specifically reserved for the government. 'It's what they have to do,' Ellison said. 'I don't really wish to be the one to force that on them, but they don't have any business being on that band.'"

"Manwaring [Murphysboro's IT director] said the city began using the 2.4 GHz spectrum in 1998 because it was cheap and no one else was on it. He said the city and county have started talking about moving off the public band because of possible interference problems with private businesses."

"'As government agencies we've got to find a way to move out of that spectrum and move into a licensed spectrum or find other alternatives, like fiber optic cable,' Manwaring said. 'The problem is, that's expensive to do. In the meantime we just hope that we can get everybody to work with each other and try to cooperate.'"

"Manwaring said it could cost $10,000 to $15,000 per building to buy radio equipment that operates in one of the licensed government bands, and the city of Murphysboro alone has eight or nine buildings that are networked."

This article points up the need for proper planning when investing in a wireless data network; it's not clear that this was done when the Murphysboro network was installed 6 years ago. Some up-front effort and investment in planning can save lots of money in the long run whether the medium is wireless or fiber.

It's also interesting to see how much the equipment for licensed spectrum costs; unless Murphysboro (population 9,500) is unusually spread out, it should be cheaper to just install fiber than buy the new radios (if they can get pole access without having to replace too many poles).

For cities with their own municipal power utilities, it's even cheaper to deploy fiber; ADSS fiber cable systems like the kind Fiber Planners has designed for other small towns can cost as little as $5,000 per mile to build.


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