Last week I posted an article entitled “Is Google secretly funding large-scale Wi-Fi projects”. In the article, I pointed to two municipal Wi-Fi projects funded by Google, one in Pryor, Oklahoma and the other in Douglasville, Georgia. The Douglasville muni Wi-Fi network is an IPv6-enabled outdoor public Wi-Fi network funded by Google, which has a data centre near the city. I was curious about what the network engineering company, Network Utility Force (NUF), had done in this project so I asked Brandon Ross (co-founder, CEO and Chief Network Architect of Network Utility Force) for more details about their deployment.
Equipment used in the Douglasville project by NUF
NUF chose Aerohive because its products offer many useful features and NUF likes its cloud-based management tools. According to Mr. Ross, Aerohive was easy to work with and Aerohive helped his company cover more areas with a limited budget. As for Ubiquiti, it provides solid gear at a very low cost.
Network usage in Douglasville’s muni Wi-Fi network
NUF reports that a week after the official launch, close to 1000 people have used the network. Watch the video interview with NUF about the Douglasville project. See photos of the NUF deployment at Douglasville.
Short Q&A with Brandon Ross, CEO of Network Utility Force
Q: Is the Douglasville project typical of the projects your company is now doing? Have you done other muni Wi-Fi projects?
A: It’s hard to say that any of our projects are typical. We do a lot of work with mid-sized service providers and our projects tend to be customized to their needs. This is the first muni Wi-Fi network we’ve done as Network Utility Force. We’ve done other large corporate Wi-Fi projects in the past. Members of our team have deployed a few muni Wi-Fi networks while working for other companies. These projects include several of Earthlink’s deployments (e.g., Philadelphia), a few rural US BTOP-funded projects, a few towns in the Dominican Republic, and Kigali, Rwanda, among others. As for additional muni Wi-Fi networks, we are in active discussions for several new projects. Large-scale complex infrastructure deployments (both wireline and wireless) are our specialty.
Q: Do you see a rise in muni Wi-Fi projects after a few years of very little happening in the space?
A: In a way, yes. I think what’s happened is that the marketplace has figured out that the model of building a muni Wi-Fi project and expecting to make money by charging access fees doesn’t work for the most part. The networks that seem to have found success are either community funded, taxpayer funded, or funded by interested parties for marketing reasons.