Municipal Wi-Fi making a comeback, says vendor
Wireless mesh network vendor Firetide is forecasting a 100% increase in demand for city-wide wireless mesh networks — an indication that muni-Wi-Fi is experiencing a resurgence from the crash and burn days of 2007. The difference this time around is a municipal focus on providing mesh networking for public safety — primarily wireless video surveillance solutions — and adding more applications, such as remote metering and traffic monitoring.
“2009 was a challenging year for the industry as well as for municipalities, although our municipal business fared better than the private industry,” said Ksenia Coffman, senior marketing manager with Firetide. “This year we expect to see the secondary wave (of muni-Wi-Fi projects).”
Coffman said municipalities also are eager to obtain more and affordable capacity rather than paying service providers for it or building out their own fiber, especially in a down economy. “Public safety is always a priority, and when [cities] see the type of cost savings realized versus fiber, it is compelling,” Coffman said.
The company came to its 100% forecast after querying municipalities as well as its channel partners and extrapolating data from research firms, including IMS Research.
Firetide also expects smart-grid projects to begin ramping up in the second half of 2010, with the anticipation that utility companies will incorporate a number of commercial and private wireless technologies to transmit energy information. The company has partnered with metering company Aclara Esco to deliver smart-grid solutions. Coffman said Firetide expects the transportation market to also grow in 2010.
Transportation will be another high growth area in terms of demand for wireless video surveillance, Coffman said. The company won a $60 million deal last fall with Korea Telecom to provide the infrastructure for what Firetide calls the world’s first real-time mobile wireless surveillance system in Seoul’s subway system.
“We’ll see a real focus on mesh and mobility in 2010,” Coffman predicted. Firetide’s MIMO-based wireless solution provides 300 Mb/s in outdoor environments and 400 Mb/s indoors, and is the only mesh technology capable of supporting live streaming video in a mobile environment, she said.
Revised on 2/11/10