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Wireless Networking United States Hardware IT

Tempe, AZ To Provide Wireless Broadband 199

Posted by Zonk
from the they-won-one dept.
jangobongo writes "City officials of Tempe, Arizona are laying claim to being the first major metropolitan area in the United States to deploy citywide wireless Internet access. MobilePro Corp. and Strix Systems have been contracted to provide a mesh network covering the entire city, which is to be in place by late summer or early fall. Downtown Tempe and the Arizona State University will have free access available, while the rest of the city will be offered monthly subscriptions ($20 for dial-up speed and $30 to $40 for high-speed wireless). Local broadband suppliers have been quiet on this, unlike elsewhere."
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Tempe, AZ To Provide Wireless Broadband

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  • Nice. Tempe moves up a few notches on my list of second home possibilities.
    • Moderation gripe: How can that post be overrated, if it has not been previously rated? Hopefully the meta mods can sort that one out...
  • by geniusj (140174) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:43PM (#12388129) Homepage
    they can compete with Tempe's pricing. They're not offering it for free everywhere or for something like $15/mo as has been suggested elsewhere.
    • I live here in Tempe and I am super thrilled. I have had to deal with both Cox (local cable provider) and the City of Tempe. Given a choice I would choose Tempe any day. I think most local residents around here feel the same way. The local broadband providers SHOULD be scared. Bravo Tempe!
    • Now that I've gotten over my "Tempe/ASU Pride", I'll try to make some observations. I think this is pretty good first of all (like I already stated). More cities should take the cue and follow Tempe. First, I think other cities in AZ should do it to. Preferrably bordering cities like Chandler, Scottsdale and Mesa and even Phoenix Metro. Chandler should team up with Intel (Intel drives a lot of Chandler's economy) to use WiMAX (something Intel is pushing anyway) around the city. That would be something I'
    • Further, they will likely see increased demand outside of the city's network from people who get used to the "free" access and soon cannot live without it at home.
    • the good thing about this for Tempeans is that they can get the 40 dollar broadband and can get use VOIP and download free videos. No need to pay for the telco's phone or the cable co's cable tv.

    • The whole purpose of muni broadband was to have highspeed for everyone at affordable prices.

      For that price , why not stick with plain old Aol or Netzero ?
  • by $criptah (467422) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:43PM (#12388138) Homepage

    If I had a deal like that in my hometown, I would subscribe; however, I would not shut my home connection down by any means.

    Let's face it, I have it pretty good: a static IP, a connection that never goes down, an ISP that filters all my mail and good support. Why would I cancel that? Wireless is nice to have, but doing it old school does not have to conflict with that.

    • Agreed. I live in nearby Phoenix and have a wonderfull broadband connection with a nice 4mbps connection which I would not give up even if there were free access at my home. I do work in downtown Tempe, so the free wireless is a nice touch when bored at lunch. Fire up the laptop and surf the porn off of the companies netowrk! Can't beat that!
    • do you have a laptop? i do. $35 to be able to go down to starbucks, the park, girlfriend's parent's house, etc etc and turn on and be plugged in to the net would be a huge advantage to right now, where at best I can use wireless internet in a) my house, b) my dorm and c) the student union. if you don't have a laptop, there's no advantage. if you do, there's plenty of reasons.
      • Yeah, I have a laptop. This has nothing to do with my willing to keep the DSL. Take a look at my post and read it again. I said that if a deal like that existed in my town, I would subscribe AND keep my connection. AND is the keyword :)

  • I hope this really works out well. Not only will it start a rise of interest in this kind of service but will personally benefit me. I frequent that area but do not live there. It just opens up the doors for all kinds of stuff good and bad.
  • For being such a geek, I don't like the sound of this. All I see if a big expense being picked up by the taxpayer. Things of this nature shouldn't be subsidized by the public, as they have nothing to do with ensuring civil liberties (which should be government's top priority on a very short list).

    It's just not right to make everyone pay for something only some will use.
    • by soupdevil (587476) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:49PM (#12388191)
      OK, so what about power, gas, water, sewer, garbage? I don't see anything wrong with cities providing utilities. They should be able to run this at cost or at a profit, and they're providing a service that private industry hasn't gotten around to doing yet.
    • What if the city puts them in, and the ISP leases them from the city? Then the city actually makes money off the AP's, and then you pay less taxes? JMO, but that sounds like a pretty sweet setup to me...
    • I agree. The only purpose of government is to ensure a decent butter-churn in every home.
      • The only purpose of government is to ensure a decent butter-churn in every home.

        No, no; you've gotta get your economic rhetoric right. A butter churn is a production tool, and as such should only be made available via a Market mechanism. For a government to intrude on such industrial activity is evil, socialistic, communistic, and probably satanic. Or something.

        What the government should be ensuring is a decent assault rifle in every home. That's so you can defend yourself against all those people t
    • ... then it makes sense for the city to do it.
      My village of about 60,000 includes trash pickup as a village service, paid by taxpayers. It's cheaper for them to contract it like that than each homeowner to do it on their own (I don't think businesses get a free ride here, so they're subsidizing my trash heap, most likely).

      The only ones whining about these things are the service providers hoping to make more money off individuals.

      And like trash, everybody, not just residents, benefits. Tourists like the

      • Why do I keep hearing things like US$50/month (and up) for home DSL service and US$80/month for cable TV in the states?

        In Canada, DSL can be had for CAN$35/month and "extended cable" (i.e., without pay TV, but with specialty channels like Space, Scream, Discovery, etc.) costs about the same.

        Maybe it's the communistic Canadian CRTC system that makes relatively cheap communications possible.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Taxpayers aren't subsidizing it. Here's the text from the official listserve release:

      For Immediate Release

      April 26, 2005

      Contact: Shelley Hearn

      Communication and Media Relations Director

      Telephone: 480/350-8906

      Tempe Wi-Fi project provides city-wide wireless access

      TEMPE, Ariz. - Tempe will be a first-of-its-kind community to offer city-wide wireless access to residents, businesses, students and visitors. On April 21, the Tempe City Council voted to award a five-year contract for the wireless broadband
    • At $20-$40 a month per subscriber, they'd have to have either a huge chunk of graft or have no subscribers to run the system into the red. If its the latter, then the system will probably end up just being run by the university. If its the former, some local news show will have some "Major Expose" and "blast the story wide open" on prime time tv where nobody will continue to care.
    • The federal governments job is to ensure civil liberties. The local government should be more involved with helping citizens manage their day to day life. That includes utilities, schools, roads, and emergency services.

      I'd consider Internet access a civil liberty anyway as it's required to fully exercise your right to freedom of speech in this age.
      • Freedom of speech means you can say what you want to without the Government stopping you.

        It *doesn't* mean you get the right to make me pay for it.
        • Who said you were paying for it? It costs no more for two people to use a network than for one to use it.

          Or is the rule that you can say whatever you want so long as you have enough money to say it? That would be the American way. It's not okay to have a dictator or royality but it's perfectly okay to get the same, or worse, effect by allowing money to make all the rules.
    • It's just not right to make everyone pay for something only some will use.

      Most of my taxes go to things I don't use. And, you are assuming that it is a money loser. I haven't seen anything that shows they are planning to lose money on it. Perhaps they expect it to make money, after all, they are charging for it. Perhaps the wireless connection will replace higher cost existing connections for city employees.
  • Good Show (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lostie (772712) * on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:46PM (#12388167)
    This is what's needed, local councils and the government need to provide investment for both wireless and wired high-speed net access. This way, even the rural areas can get it, how long will it be before prospective buyers of your rural house start to lose interest because of no broadband in your area? It is fast becoming an essential commodity.

    And in this case, the fixed-line telcos now have some competition, which is always a good thing(tm).
    • I have to agree with this reasoning. Whenever I have to move, even in town, one top criteria is availability of high-speed internet access, wireless or otherwise. Before broadband cable became available throughout virtually the entire city (Phoenix), I passed up several potentially nice areas becasue the thought of going back to dialup scared the shit out of me. I think this is a sweet idea.
      • Re:Good Show (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk (229616)
        What pisses me off right now is that its easier to get a good coverage map for a cellphone then it is to find out if you can get DSL in a house BEFORE you move in.

        I look at these apartment locators and house listing services, and think that people are missing a major business opportunity... partner up with some DSL provider (pick one) and mark each listing that you can get DSL at that house... new subscribers for the DSL and tech savvy people buying the house.
  • New cell for me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Murdoc (210079) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:47PM (#12388178) Homepage Journal
    Hey, if I had that in my city, now that I have Skype on my PocketPC Axim, it'd be just like a cell phone, but with cheap/free long distance! Woot!
  • Go Canada (Score:5, Informative)

    by Godboy_g (794101) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:48PM (#12388183)
    We've had city wide wireless available for quite some time now. It's offered for FREE too. For those interested, I live in Fredericton New Brunswick Canada! Go Canada!
  • Mexico (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hlopez (220083)
    I mexico there is basically only one phone company, TELMEX. Everyone buys there dsl from them, (sure there are 2 or 3 cable providers but thats only in 3 cities.) as part of there package you can use your same user/pass while at there hotspots. This places are located everywere: malls, downtown, random streets, airports, ect. As a result you get free (all ready paid for) access to the internet almost nation wide.
  • DANG. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iroll (717924)
    Tempe is one of the best-run cities in the valley (make that THE BEST). As one of the only land-locked cities, the powers-that-be are interested in doing more than just sprawling out another patch of stripmalls and stucco houses--they're being forced to compete for business and residents by improving services and density. Yes, Daisy, competition works in government, too!

    Unfortunately, it's making housing prices go through the roof (even compared to the rest of the valley), and it's pricing some of us you
    • Unfortunately, it's making housing prices go through the roof

      It's just simple economics. Because there is a limited amount of land, the price has to go up. Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, Mesa can all just grow outward. Some people may not like sprawl, but sprawl is what prevents housing prices from going "through the roof."


    • Unfortunately, it's making housing prices go through the roof (even compared to the rest of the valley), and it's pricing some of us young urban professionals out

      It's too bad that the possibility of home ownership (i.e., real estate prices) for new buyers has fallen victim (IMO) to speculators and existing market collusion.

      Ever-increasing prices only benefit the brokers' commissions - hmm, interesting - and shut new, local buyers out of the market. Even if you are able to afford a $250K mortgage, it's
  • Just wanted to say Good job. I wish they did it while I was actually living in Tempe and not when I moved out to Chandler after I graduated from ASU. Otherwise I wouldn't have had to leech from my neighbor. Crap... did I just say that out loud? Uh I mean, I was sharing his connection. Yeah.
  • AFTER I move out of Tempe, AZ (gets worse) to the lovely city of Lincoln, Nebraska (yuck)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are a lot of other smaller cities that have already implemented this: http://chaska.net/ [chaska.net]
    in Minnesota, and Minneapolis is planning on rolling out a city-wide privately owned network soon:
    http://www.startribune.com/stories/789/5342733.htm l/ [startribune.com]

    Cool stuff either way!
  • by digitaldc (879047) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:52PM (#12388208)
    Get everyone in Tempe AZ to get with it and get a massive online Sims game going. Everyone can live out a life and never leave the house.
    The benefits will be enormous. Traffic will be lighter and delivery & gaming support services will reap great rewards!
  • Most excellent, if anything this will make other isp's get a clue and start lowering their rates.
  • for people who have lost everything but their laptops.

    How's the public library?

  • Wish I had it here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nonillion (266505) on Friday April 29, 2005 @04:55PM (#12388240)
    Where I live my only option is Comcast. I use my T-Mobile hotspot service (sync T-1) with my laptop but would gladly sign up for something like this. Hell is going to freeze over before I pay Comcast 49.95 a month for their restrictive take it bundled or else Internet service.
    • I used to do technical/billing support for Comcast HSI and I couldn't believe what their customers had to pay.

      I pay $25 per month. I live in Canada, though, so maybe it's an irrelevant comparison.
  • According to a quick googling, Tempe is the fifth-largest city in Arizona with a population of 160,000. It's considered part of the Phoenix metro area by the Census administration http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/phc-t3/t a b03.txt [census.gov], but if it were its own, it would only rank, say around 180 or so (giving it some credit for a metro area).

    Wake me when something important happens, like Peoria (#118 at about 350,000), or Shreveport (#105 at just under 400,000).
    • I doubt something like this will stay isolated to the Tempe area for very long. The Phoenix Metro area is pretty damn big. To say Tempe is a separate city is to merely recognize an imaginary border. We are really one large city with no physical borders of over 2.5 milion people. Even for those of us in Phoenix, Mesa, Peoria, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler and the other 'cities', the wait may not be to terribly long.
    • While I have to agree with you based on population, Tempe is relatively centrally located and has a more "clean and modern" feel to it compared to Phoenix. There are many more people that work, shop, go to school, and play in Tempe than those that live there. Think of it as more of a spread out downtown area rather than a city on its own and you will see the significance.
  • Why would anyone bother when they can get dialup for $10 these days? :P
  • Last I heard, Tempe was not its own metropolitan area, but a segment of the Phoenix metro. Perhaps it has outgrown its neighbor.

    Yes, it's nice to see high-speed wireless access all over town, but for one, I don't like to see a city government throwing tax dollars at it when there are other things to worry about, and for another, why create a monopoly with public funds?

    I would understand if it was going to offer free(or even cheap) access to things like city services, and public access-type content, but th
  • Quoth the article: It's official: Tempe will become the first major metropolitan area in the United States to deploy citywide wireless Internet access.

    Philadelphia has the same project going. Philly's project I think still needs city council approval, but you can't lay claim to this title until the network is installed, tested and running.

    I will say I won't be surprised if the philly project does get bogged down, but then again Mayor Street got the sports complex through city council a couple years back
  • I'm probably going to ASU (Arizona State University) after I graduate from high school. Looks like I'll be able to get free wireless access by the time I'm there.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wish i lived there, just think of all the unsecured connections that will be around to leach off of! Sweet Deal!

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday April 29, 2005 @05:34PM (#12388535)
    this is a good idea, besides the socialist factor played out here all the time.

    Face it, you are giving government control of the medium. You are giving them the power to censor the internet when they control it like this. You are already seeing the FEC trying to graple the internet for political speech (which the 1st ammendment is there to protect at its BASE!!!). Giving the government the power to distrubute connections is tantamount to giving them the rights to distribute newspapers and sell "spectrums" for TV/Radio stations to broadcast on (whcih they already do).

    Look where the FCC has gone with its control over that medium, they have been cracking down on "questionable content" for a long time.

    Be careful what you wish for.
    • I call bullshit on this.

      See, the first amendment, and all the amendments for that matter, are rights which protect the people from censorship from the government.

      Unfortunately, privately run corporations are exempt from this, since they themselves aren't held to the first amendment the way the government is.

      See the story of the Dead Kennedys [consumercide.com] on this one. The government's attempt at censorship in this case wasn't done on the legal level, but instead pressure was put on private industry (read RIAA) t

  • by Pet Doctor (549054) on Friday April 29, 2005 @05:40PM (#12388580)
    Broadband access has become increasingly essential to economic growth, health care, and education. What electric power and telephones were to the 20th Century, broadband access will be to the 21st. Towns that don't have affordable broadband lose jobs. Their children suffer a serious disadvantage in college or in the workforce, where fluency with computers and the Internet is increasingly assumed as a matter of course. Communities without broadband cannot take advantage of new breakthroughs in tel-medicine or the economic opportunities created by telecommuting. Even in crowded urban areas, the availability of broadband can vary from one neighborhood to another, stranding one neighborhood on the wrong side of the "digital divide" while two, three or even four broadband providers serve their neighbors.

    Municipalities have a valuable role to play in filing this gap. Municipalities have a long history of providing necessary services for citizens and stimulating local businesses. In the 20th century, municipalities built power plants and telephone lines when private services did not move fast enough. Our competitive power and telecoms industries today demonstrate that these services by municipalities complement private industry rather than compete with it. In addition, municipalities have a long history of spending money to benefit their citizens and encourage business development. They should have the same opportunity to offer public hot spots and broadband access.

    From 2001- 2004 the United States dropped from 4th to 13th place in global rankings of broadband Internet usage. Today, most U.S. homes can access only 'basic' broadband, among the slowest, most expensive and least reliable in the developed world. Nearly all Japanese have access to 'high-speed' broadband, with an average connection time 16 times faster than in the United States - for only about $22 a month. South Korea, which has the world's greatest percentage of broadband users, and urban China, which last year surpassed the U.S. in the number of broadband users.

    The solution is not to protect the baby bells and cable companies from competition; it is instead to encourage more competition. Communities across the country are experimenting with ways to supplement private service. And these experiments are producing unexpected economic returns. Some are discovering that free wireless access increases the value of public spaces just as street lamps do. And just as street lamps don't make other types of lighting obsolete, free wireless access in public spaces won't kill demand for access in private spaces. Yet we will never recognize these externalities unless municipalities are free to experiment.

    Source: NY Times & http://www.pbs.org/now/ [pbs.org]

  • For those of you who aren't familiar with Tempe, it's quite a hip place to hang out. Actually, if you fly to Phoenix International Airport in the evening, your plane will descend over Tempe, where you'll see a beautiful scene of the river, lights all around, restaurants, clubs, and all kinds of other fun.

    Ironically, Tempe is very close To Scotsdale, which some people prefer to call Snobsdale. It's the "high class" part of greater Phoenix, with some of the fanciest hotels, restaurants, and malls around. I'm

    • Don't be silly. Scottsdale is too busy trying to figure out how to force home builders to make garages large enough for his and hers Hummer H2s. ;)

      Good luck to Tempe in pulling this off. It's one thing to make WiFi work for something the size of the Mill Ave shops, it's another entirely to make it work for an entire city without the whole thing going to hell in a handbasket. And you just know about the time they finish installing it an updated 802.11 standard will have come out that quadruples the speed.
  • The city of Lompoc, California is getting citywide wireles from Lompoc Connect. Sure it's not a major city but it is further proof that wireless is growing. I had thought that DSL, cable, and satellite internet would solve most problems but I now think wireless can replace most of those technologies. Coincidentally my company of 10ish people is moving offices and our choice of internet providers is a wireless solution that offers double the bandwith at half the cost of a traditional solution - our 2nd op
  • by Dark Coder (66759) on Friday April 29, 2005 @06:07PM (#12388782)
    $20!!!! PER MONTH!!????

    One can circumvent that by lil' wardriving and getting it for free. 8.8 cents per mile for gasoline until an unsecured hotspot is detected.

    YMMV.
  • A view from inside (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lurking Grue (3963) on Friday April 29, 2005 @06:53PM (#12389135)
    I'm an IT employee for the City of Tempe. There seems to be a bit of speculation about the new wireless agreement. Here's my unofficial summary of what's happening:

    Our Council has awarded a contract to MobilePro to build-out a wireless network citywide. MobilePro will utilize some City infrastructure (mostly light poles) for the build-out. In exchange, we get free dedicated bandwidth for municipal services.

    We're not an ISP. We're not involved with managing bandwidth, setting subscription rates, or filtering content. And despite speculation in several posts I've read, we're not subsidizing the project. This is a partnership with ASU and MobilePro.

    Our website offers a more detailed explanation:

    http://www.tempe.gov/business/wifi/ [tempe.gov]

  • ...The rollout of WiMax wireless technology.

    Unlike 802.11x-based WiFi, 802.16/802.20-based WiMax can cover a large metropolitan area with only a few antenna arrays. In short, instead of needing many hundreds of WiFi "hotspots" to cover Tempe, AZ, they could cover that same city with 8-10 WiMax antenna arrays.

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