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Robert Liu[April 19, 2005]

Intense Planning, Indoor CPEs Required of Wireless Philadelphia Bidders


PHILADELPHIA � While the unlicensed spectrum throughout the City of Philadelphia was found to have no interference that would prohibit a citywide Wi-Fi network deployment, an RF study has concluded that any potential contract bid would required indoor customer premise equipment (CPE) and �intense planning� to offset the cavernous urban landscape found throughout most of the city.

The study, commissioned by the City, was performed by Civitium of Alpharetta, Ga., from November 2004 and January 2005 using physical site indoor and outdoor surveys as well as some predictive modeling. It examined signal noise only the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands in a one-square mile test area that deployed a 17-node mesh network and pre-WiMAX base station for the backhaul.

�It is the vendor's responsibility to cooperate,� Civitium President Greg Richardson said yesterday at a well-attended pre-proposal fact-finding meeting headed by Philadelphia CIO Dianah Neff. �The [City] will work with the winning respondent to work with other operators that choose to overbuild.�

The summary findings of the RF study, which will be released today, could substantially increase the cost for anyone interested in bidding on the lucrative $10 million contract. Another study by wireless equipment vendor TeleCIS Wireless recently concluded that one of the biggest drawbacks to widespread acceptance of broadband wireless access was �not only the cost of the subscriber station (SS) or customer premise equipment (CPE) but the installation cost as well.�

And while city officials used the forum as an opportunity to answer questions from the 200 or so interested respondents to the City�s RFP, many vendors were still left with unanswered questions. For example, even though the City was providing respondents with key topographical data like street lines, curb lines and street poles, it is only providing building footprints info from 1996 and none of the data includes specifics about building heights. That will leave many respondents guessing about using municipal buildings as transmission towers.

The goal of the City is to provide 95-percent in-street coverage outdoor and 90 percent of in-building indoor coverage by the summer of 2006. Yesterday�s meeting was the first opportunity that anyone had to gather additional information about the City�s plans and required for anyone interested in submitting a proposal.

Robert Liu is executive editor at TMCnet.  Previously, he was executive editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg.  He can be reached at rliu@tmcnet.com.


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