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March 16, 2006

'Largest Wireless Network' Planned For Arizona

Courtesy of TechWeb News

The wireless mesh network that began in Tempe, Ariz., and initially produced the largest Wi-Fi network in the U.S. continues to spread to neighboring communities, according to an announcement Thursday from the network's equipment supplier, Strix Systems. The firm said the new deployment in Gilbert will create a 187-square-mile network when it's completed.

The Gilbert network will cover the community's 76 square miles and be contiguous with the nearby cities of Tempe and Chandler. Gilbert has selected MobilePro Corp. for the design, deployment, and operation of its network.

"The three cities clearly realized the value of creating a single network that all residents, visitors, and businesses can use, as opposed to deploying three separate, incompatible mesh networks," said Ryan McCaigue, director of network engineering at MobilePro's wireless division, in a statement.

Users in the three communities will be able to access the Internet from anywhere in the three cities

Last week, the region received a tacit endorsement of its wireless technology when Google announced that it will locate a facility at Arizona State University's Tempe campus. Google has been a strong advocate of wireless broadband and has indicated that the technology will constitute an important piece of its future business plans.

MobilePro deployed Tempe first, then Chandler, using Strix's multi-radio, multi-channel, and multi-RF mesh solution. The Strix gear can be configured to facilitate a relatively easy upgrade to WiMAX if that wide area wireless technology becomes desirable at a later date.

Like most municipal Wi-Fi networks, the Gilbert deployment will feature a sliding scale of services and prices; users will have free and unlimited access to local government, school, and college Web sites; users will pay for additional services.

The newest installment of the high-speed network in Gilbert will serve the city's 180,000 residents and 2,700 businesses. Deployment is scheduled to get underway in June with completion expected by the end of the year.

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