Craven County, North Carolina goes wireless: rural Wi-Fi connects schools, towns

Craven County, North Carolina (pop. 95,000) is deploying a wireless broadband network that will initially connect five schools in rural areas. It will also be used for the police and fire departments. Recently, the county installed a fiber optic network but it does not reach all communities. As a result, they will also use wireless to connect those towns without fiber. Craven County has hired Windchannel to deploy the network.

Deploying wireless broadband networks makes sense in a lot of rural counties that telecom and cable operators have ignored. Many of these rural networks use pre-WiMAX, Wi-Fi, fiber and some DSL for the network. Unlike large cities which have cable and DSL service, many rural communities have to go the DIY route and set up their own networks and there’s such pent-up demand that they have no trouble getting customers who are willing to pay more than what people in cities usually pay for Internet access. Indeed, this is where much of the growth in municipal and county wireless will occur in the next few years.

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