22 Mar Wireless advances in Madison, heats up in Waukesha
Madison, Wis. — Open up a laptop in downtown Madison and you could try out the city’s new wireless network, said executives from infrastructure provider Cellnet on Wednesday.
An initial coverage area of 10 square miles, including the isthmus and the Alliant Energy Center, is operational and available for testing. And until April 1, it’s free, as Cellnet works out the kinks. After that, Internet service providers will be selling service for monthly rates. Merrimac Communications and ResTech are the first two ISPs signed up, and prices will be in the vicinity of $20 per month.
“I think they were willing to step up and take a bit of a chance,” said Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz about why the city chose Georgia-based Cellnet. This is the first time Cellnet has operated a wireless network for people. Its experience is in automatic monitoring of 11 million energy meters, said CEO Mike Zito.
That means it will be watching Madison closely to see what the demand is for this kind of service. Zito said expansion to cover more of the city would depend on whether that demand is there. The city also has a direct interest in convincing Cellnet to cover Madison “from border to border,” Cieslewicz said, as emergency services would like to use the network.
ISPs will be responsible for their customers’ security online, said Louis Kek, CIO of Cellnet. In this scenario, Cellnet is a provider of wholesale network usage – its customers are the ISPs, not users.
Unsecured wireless networks allow snooping on information that could include personal and financial information, if people are visiting their banks’ web sites, for example. And some wireless security measures such as WEP have been compromised and are essentially useless against knowledgeable attackers.
• Madison’s downtown wireless network almost ready
• Madison wireless deal goes forward with Cellnet
• New alliance to provide Wi-Fi network for City of Madison
• TDS plans broadband wireless launch in Madison
Meanwhile, in Waukesha
Another provider has entered the fray with a desire to build a wireless network covering Waukesha, while one of the existing three has dropped out, local media reported.
Nortel Networks Corp., which is based in Ontario, Canada, has told the city council it intends to bid on the construction of a network. It will compete with Midwest Fiber Networks, which is building the nearby Milwaukee network, and Cellnet. A coalition consisting of U.S. Internet, Scientel Wireless and Waukesha businessman David Baraniak had to pull out. U.S. Internet is putting a lot of its resources into a Minneapolis network.
On Thursday in Milwaukee, mayor Tom Barrett and executives from Midwest Fiber Networks will be discussing Milwaukee’s network with at a lunch meeting with the Milwaukee Interactive Marketing Association.