Back in June of this year (2004), Rio Rancho, a city of the state of New Mexico announced it had plans to follow Philadelphia and San Francisco’s plans to deploy city-wide WiFi (define - news - alert) access. The plans went crashing down after the selected provider did not deliver the goods, causing the city to terminate the agreement in August. Then came Azulstar Networks, a division of Ottawa Wireless Inc., to the rescue as the service provider’s contingency plan was accepted by Rio Rancho’s city council, reigniting efforts to create the city-wide WiFi hotspot.
"This new agreement demonstrates the city's dedication to bring this valuable service to our community," said Rio Rancho City’s Mayor Jim Owen. "Rio Rancho is a vibrant, high-tech haven, and city-wide WiFi will enhance the way people work, play and live in our rapidly growing city. We're grateful to Azulstar Networks and the other partners for seeing tremendous opportunity in our city's wireless system."
The city made a 25-year-long license agreement with Azulstar, giving the company grant rights-of-way to install and operate WiFi equipment, providing WiFi coverage across all 103 square miles of Rio Rancho. Rio Rancho expects the network to be up and running by March 15 of next year—the original target date set in June. Rio Rancho’s council revealed that the network is being funded by private investors and will use hundreds of small WiFi repeater radios attached to buildings, utility poles and city infrastructure to deploy the WiFi network.
Rio Rancho residents wanting to take advantage of the WiFi access across the city will have to pay Azulstar $19.95 monthly for unlimited 256kbps service. Azulstar is also pitching-in a WiFi-based VoIP calling service offered at $24.95 monthly for unlimited residential calling throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Van Houwelingen added, "We look forward to making Rio Rancho a showcase for city-wide WiFi as we leverage our experience building the nation's first city-wide WiFi network in Grand Haven, Michigan."
Additionally, Intel Corp. and the city of Rio Rancho will provide locations for mounting the cellular WiFi equipment as well as overall project assistance and support. Proxim Corp. will deliver a pre-WiMAX (define - news - alert) wireless backbone solution, Meru Networks will provide the access points, and LogiSense will supply operational support systems, such as billing.
|Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was
assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She
can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.