Corpus Christi, Texas gets citywide Wi-Fi

Corpus Christi, Texas, is deploying a citywide Wi-Fi network for use by the city-owned water and gas utilities, public works departments, and public safety agencies. The city anticipates significant cost savings and increased effectiveness in the mobile workforce as a result of the wireless broadband network. After successful deployment of Phase 1 (18.5 square miles), the city plans a completeCorpus Christi, Texas, is deploying a citywide Wi-Fi network for use by the city-owned water and gas utilities, public works departments, and public safety agencies. The city anticipates significant cost savings and increased effectiveness in the mobile workforce as a result of the wireless broadband network. After successful deployment of Phase 1 (18.5 square miles), the city plans a complete build-out to cover 147 square miles by March of 2005.

Details on Phase 1

For Phase 1, the city will be installing 300 Tropos 5110 Wi-Fi cells which use mesh networking technology. The cost of the Tropos equipment, which includes one year of maintenance, is $600,000. They will use it first for automated gas and water meter reading. The network will relay automatically generated usage information twice per day from all meters in the coverage area. By eliminating the need for utility personnel to visit each meter and manually record customer consumption, the city can more quickly and accurately provide up-to-date billing information to their service recipients. Additionally, utility customers have immediate, real-time usage data available to them through a Web-based billing and information system run by the city and automatically updated with each wireless meter polling.

In refining the scope of the Wi-Fi deployment, and conducting detailed research for the bid process, the City of Corpus Christi worked closely with Public Technology, Inc. (PTI), a national non-profit technology research and development organization based in Washington, DC, representing local governments nationwide. PTI’s mission is to bring the benefits of technology to local governments.

In addition to the utility applications, the network will be available for use by city public works crews, as well as the Corpus Christi Police and Fire Departments. The public safety agencies, with more than 315 police, fire, and EMS vehicles in their collective fleet, will use VPN authenticated access to all of the applications currently available only in their offices. The city also plans to operate GPS-based asset and vehicle tracking applications over the Wi-Fi network, increasing both officer and community safety.

To minimize costs, Corpus Christi will use existing city fiber for its minimal required wired backhaul connections.

Here’s a question for you all: isn’t Tropos Networks’ mesh technology as little bit of overkill for automated gas meter reading? With this much wireless broadband capacity, shouldn’t the city open the network for public access?

Comments

  1. The MuniWireless Evangelist

    What Glenn Fleishman is to WiFi, my pal Esme is to Muni Wireless networks. She tracks the business of unwired communities and municipalities with the tenacity of a long distance runner. She is currently guest blogging at The Industry Standard…

  2. John Cooper says

    Mesh is actually a practical technology, at least in my experience. I used to work for a company 7 years ago that did wireless automatic meter reading, or AMR as it was called back then. At that point, we used proprietary network technology from CellNet and it was very expensive. They went out of business. Tropos and other solutions have brought costs in line and make other solutions more feasible. But the multiple points of residential meters suggest mesh or perhaps broadband over power line at some point.

    Check out a company, Energy Technology Group. They are using something similar to the Corpus Christi solution for meter reading data communication. From their website: http://www.etgroup.us/utility_solutions.htm

    The key solution feature is the use of ETG’s mesh architecture for communications. ETG’s solution utilizes a point to multi-point fixed network based on 902-928 MHz spectrum wireless communications.

  3. Indeed there is plenty of bandwidth to allow for a “subscriber access” model BUT….. given the fact that they are deploying a technology that does not support open access and security for utility and emergency usage in the same breath, they have little choice. Within the next 6 months the industry will yield product solutions to address those issues. Side note, with the ubiquitious coverage CC seeks to have, there is no need for GPS location applications. Trilateration and RFID will do what they are looking for at a fraction of the cost. The community deserves a great deal of praise for being leaders in their quest for a Community Enterprise Communication Solution. Good leadership.

  4. Muniwireless says

    Anthony Townsend of NYC Wireless says:

    I don’t think it’s overkill to use mesh for meter reading. A lot of power utilities are deploying BPL, but not for consumers, for meter reading and smart power management. The $$ involved are enormous in terms of manpower and energy savings.

  5. Michael Williamson says

    Hmm… Critical services on 2.4 ghz and on 902-928 that rely on part 15 devices are just a BAD IDEA! This is fine for convenience, but remember any device operating under FCC part 15 has no recourse for interference problems, and furthermore must be shut down if it is interfering with a licensed service.

    Both of these bands are shared with licensed services. While I really doubt you’ll encounter much interference from the 2.4 Ghz amateur radio band, you may encounter repeaters with as much as 20 – 50 watts (typical) on the 902-928 band.

  6. As a Corpus Christi resident and college student, i find it extraordinary that we will have this kind of service in our city. Aslo the city has informed us that there will be public access available soon for free. But after a while there will be a very inexpensive charge to use the wireless service!!