Speaking of followup, muni wireless
installations have been around for long enough to come back and test which ones are working. Novarum, a consultancy specializing in wireless broadband, has gotten behind the hype and the skepticism, and tested muni wireless networks by coverage and speed. The best rated system were Saint Cloud Florida and Mountain View (which worked when I was there). The first thing to note is that according to the study, some of them actually do seem to work. Second, reasonable performance depends on more transmitters; early estimates recommended 20 transmitters per square mile, but it appears as though 40 are needed for adequate performance.
Novarum also ranked the cellular broadband networks, and included them in an overall ranking with the wifi nets. The Saint Cloud net came in first overall, and the Google Mountain View net came in number ten on the combined list. The cellular nets rank better because they have better coverage. Wifi nets, when you can get them, are faster than cellular.
One puzzlement is that Palo Alto appears on the wireless list, ranked number 8, at 2.45 on a scale of 5. On the University drag, there are plenty of locations offering free wifi, but what is the muni offering? Is it the lame Anchorfree service that has poor connectivity and a horridly annoying registration system? If that’s the case, then it’s below the cutoff where a rational person would consider the system to “work.” Santa Clara is above it, ranked at 2.65. A field trip may be in order for some anecdotal testing. I wonder where in the Santa Clara sprawl the network is to be found?
What was the population in the survey? Hard to say. To build that top 10 list, how many citiies did they visit. Ten? Fifty? They don’t say on their website. This makes it impossible to draw conclusions about the overall state of muni wireless investments.
Novarum plans to come back in six months to test again.