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Re: <nettime> Public WiFi Network 2 Public Cable Network
ben moretti on Sun, 9 Feb 2003 14:57:57 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Public WiFi Network 2 Public Cable Network

# following drazen pantic's excellent email on wi-fi and art - it would be
# interesting to see some art applications emerging into this whole city 
# wi-fi proposed for little old adelaide below. 

----------  Forwarded Message  ----------


South Australia's StreetWise Hot Zone
 February 4, 2003

When people in the northern hemisphere think of Australia, high-tech
probably doesn't spring to mind, nor is it likely they consider the city
of Adelaide, located 400 miles west of Melbourne along the country's south

Adelaide, capital of the state of South Australia and with a population of
about one million, is now home to one of the boldest experiments yet in
the deployment of Wi-Fi hot zones (a hotspot providing a "cloud" of
coverage in a selected area or neighborhood). StreetWise, a project of
m.Net Corporation Ltd., a consortium with public and private partners and
funding, will turn this small mixed-economy city into a truly wireless

Virtually the whole city will be covered by the outdoor Wi-Fi network. "We
think of it as more of a cold spot model," says Paul Daly, the company's
director of strategic relationships. "There are going to be isolated areas
where there's not coverage, rather than the other way around."

Two Adelaide-based consortium members -- AirNet Commercial Australia Ltd.
and Agile Pty. Ltd., both broadband ISPs -- will build the network. They
are committed to completing a "small test network" by the end of February.
The whole city, including the one-square-mile downtown area, plus North
Adelaide, a largely residential area about half that size, will be
completed by the end of the year, Daly says.

The final cost has yet to be calculated. n.Net itself is contributing 70
access points that will be redeployed from a conference site, but it's not
clear how many it will take in the end. One other unknown is the cost of
secure enclosures for the access points, which will be mounted on traffic
signal poles.

The project is well funded. Commonwealth (federal) and state governments
have kicked in about $5.75 million between them. Private sector consortium
members have invested twice that amount -- "in one way or another," Daly
notes. Some, such as Cisco Australia, are contributing gear -- StreetWise
will use Cisco Aironet access points.

Agile and AirNet, which will sell commercial Internet access services
using the m.Net infrastructure, are also investing separately in their own

StreetWise is a multi-dimensional project. One of the primary objectives,
Daly says, is to provide a test bed in which wireless application
developers can build and test new applications. The consortium has already
attracted a roster of 20 developers to its Gallery 4 program, with more to

In future phases of the project, m.Net also expects to be involved in the
commercialization of some of those applications.

The company will provide developers a "network-agnostic" test bed. The
consortium also owns a 3G mobile network built with UMTS (Universal Mobile
Telecommunications System) infrastructure equipment from France's Alcatel
and employing portable video phones from Mitsubishi. The 3G network
actually covers less of the city than the Wi-Fi network hot zone will.

In addition, commercial carriers are offering GSM GPRS (General Packet
Radio Service) and CDMA 1xRTT (single carrier radio transmission
technology) "2.5G" services in Adelaide. "Our intention is that [Gallery 4
developers] should write from the start for a global [i.e. cross-network]
market," Daly says.

The city itself, with its rich mix of different private and public sector
activities, makes a great test bed from a marketing perspective. The
Gallery 4 program aims to target six key application sectors -- education,
health, tourism, transportation, entertainment and city business.

Some Gallery 4 applications have already been developed, at least in
prototype, and others are under development. One of the most intriguing of
those that will work best or only on the Wi-Fi network is Virtual Tourist,
a location-based service for city visitors. It lets them use a Compaq iPaq
Pocket PC or similar device as a mobile audio-video tour guide.

"A visitor could either have their own [iPaq] with them or get hold of one
from their hotel," Daly speculates. "They'll be able to walk around the
city following the maps and a path provided by the application showing how
to get from one place to another. Then there'll be rich-media information
-- video, audio, photographs -- as well as text about the various sites to
help you understand their significance."

The prototype Virtual Tourist, which included themed tours for those
interested in architectural, historical, botanical and sporting sites, was
originally developed by an unnamed company for the 2002 World Congress on
IT, held in Adelaide -- the same conference for which m.Net deployed the
70 Cisco access points.

Users carried a GPS (Global Positioning System) and Compaq iPaq. As they
walked past a place of interest, the iPaq displayed information about it
-- graphics and text only in this prototype version.

The application test bed supports the economic development objectives of
government -- hence the public funding.

Part of the idea is to attract more high-tech businesses to South
Australia and Adelaide in particular. The city boasts three universities,
as well as dozens of specialist technology and biotechnology colleges, and
thus a highly educated and technology-savvy population. U.S. firms such as
Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and EDS are already there taking advantage of
the city. Government wants to attract more.

Besides the application test bed and economic development objectives,
StreetWise will also be a fully commercial network attracting mobile and
fixed customers. Final plans, including retail pricing are nowhere near
complete. m.Net itself will not set pricing for commercial services --
that will be up to Agile and AirNet.

"We'd like to think it will be fairly affordable," Daly says.

AirNet, a DSL provider, is already offering fixed wireless services to
Adelaide customers not served by DSL -- for about $40 a month. Customers
will not have to switch to Agile or AirNet, however. Other Adelaide ISPs
will have access to the infrastructure, Daly says.

There will also be business opportunities for coffee shops and restaurants
to connect to the m.Net infrastructure and extend wireless coverage into
their premises. Daly expects Agile and AirNet will also market the
services to offices in the city.

More and more city and regional governments are getting into the Wi-Fi hot
spot/zone business, either directly as in the recent case of Long Beach,
CA or indirectly as in the case of Pittsburgh, PA. Adelaide, Australia,
however, is clearly the most ambitious to date, and the most highly

So why isn't somebody in the U.S. doing something on this scale?

ben moretti
bmoretti {AT} chariot.net.au

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