Private-public wireless networks: if we secure it, they will come

There is a recurring network model that is coming out of the US broadband stimulus grant requests and recent FCC workshops.  States across the nation have been trying to present sustainable models to support broadband service in rural areas while recent FCC workshops have been trying to tackle the issue of the US now being 18th in the world in offering broadband services.  This is all coming to a head while critical network applications such as public safety, transportation, utilities and power grids all look for a network solution that will improve their service capabilities.  The consistent direction to efficiently offering these sustainable networks is shared public/private models.

In a recent FCC workshop, State and Local Governments: Toolkits and Best Practices, Charles Ghini, Director, Florida Department of Management Services, Division of Telecommunications, has a more holistic approach to multi-agency statewide networks. “If you don’t have a…statewide vision, you’re increasing your chances of failure, and that’s the way we’ve been going at it, the wrong way. We were too fragmented in Florida.”  Other states began to realize the need to pool their communication assets as they tried to evaluate sustainable models to serve rural areas.

Local and state agencies not only have broadband requirements but also employ some of the largest field personnel forces. This field requirement also mandates the need for wireless access.  In addition to the requirement of field access, with the new 802.11n wireless standard ratified, the need for expensive in building and campus wireline local area networks no longer exists. The bottom line in offering affordable broadband network models serving both government and commercial sector needs is wireless public/private wireless IP networks.

The efficiencies are certainly here.  Think about the money saved in just re-homing replicated communication infrastructure in the vast number of government agency networks in cities, counties and states across the nation.  Public safety alone has 23 agencies in every state of the nation. Think about the additional applications that could be offered to these agencies changing these mainly voice networks to data centric wireless IP networks.

In the FCC workshop, Big Ideas with Potential to Substantially Change the Internet, Dr. Robert D. Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said, “The era we just came from will be the one with the most change not the one we are going into.” He asked, “How do we make the system we have work better? Big changes will come in intelligence, transportation, energy and environment censors. There will be more users, more wireless and more bits. We will require many more real time applications. But finally we will need an Internet that enables authentication. Many countries are making progress there by encrypting their citizens with authentications.”

So where are we going to get the type of network security that will allow existing networks to securely operate while migrating these network and security platforms to new wireless IP networks?

I searched for a solution for such demanding requirements and found a vertical market that had already field tested and deployed this wireless platform in a rather demanding environment. The vertical market is the US armed forces.

In time of war there are two first wave requirements you need to establish before entering enemy territory.  One is to cripple the enemy’s existing communication infrastructure.  This now leaves you with no local communications infrastructure so you need an adhoc, on-demand network. Mobile wireless mesh networks offered this core on-demand network infrastructure capabilities but once in place they needed to be secured.  It is under this demanding environment that the WirelessWall platform was built.

The WirelessWall security was constructed as a vendor agnostic platform offering end to end security.  The platform offers simplicity in offering Layer 2 security through by installing software in one devise then the other.   Under this solution everything in between, over the wireless, as well as the wired portion of a network, is secured. A common management interface can handle clusters of access points even in mobile mesh for zoned security.  The bottom line is that existing communications infrastructure combined with wireless 802.11x, mesh and WiMax technologies now have a platform of offering end-to-end security in shared public/private networks.

Ed Smith is President of TLC-Chamonix, LLC and has spent an entire career supporting network rapid response team facilitation, contact identity management, and crisis management applications.  “I see a great opportunity in shared public/private wireless IP networks.  These new IP topologies offer greater network efficiencies while adding the capability of offering diverse applications on a single network. Shared public/private networks now have a layer 2 security platform that allows the sharing of these network facilities.”

Smith continues,” If we are to share network and network applications, we must also be able to secure entire vertical wireless services through a common management interface.   Under the WirelessWall platform we can securely add personal, departmental, interdepartmental and even machine to machine security making it possible to share public/private wireless and wireline IP networks.”   WiFi Planet recently reported the uniqueness of the WirelessWall platform and its timeliness in helping retailers comply with PCI DSS requirements.

In these economic times we must share what network facilities we have while readying ourselves for better times ahead.  Combining exiting public/private communication networks while leveraging new wireless IP technologies can offer us such an opportunity.   It seems to be the right time and place for public/private broadband wireless IP network deployment and “if we secure it, they will come”.

Other information:

TLC-Chamonix, LLC

TLC-Chamonix, LLC acquired WirelessWall from Cranite Systems, and is fully dedicated to enabling today’s customers with a software security solution running over their existing equipment for in-place and instantly secure networks. WirelessWall helps software and hardware producers and their customers maximize revenue, cut costs, and provide security, privacy and identity management to the Enterprise.

The Florida Department of Management Services Division of Telecommunications

The Department of Management Services provides communications assistance during emergencies and disasters.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

ITIF is a non-partisan research and educational institute – a think tank – whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues.

About the Author

Larry Karisny is the director of the ProjectSafety Business and Technology Cluster. ProjectSafety is a technology and business non-profit focused on the deployment and future proof testing of municipal broadband wireless networks. ProjectSafety’s unique broadband wireless Community Network Integration (CNI) model addresses both technology requirements and business needs in a single network solution for both the public and private sectors.


  1. Larry is right, security is the key, the best technology in the world with a open back door is frought with disaster ie; Thinking you are secure when you are not is the worst case.