Cerritos To Get Wireless High Speed Internet Access Across Entire City
(Dec. 2, 2003) -- Cerritos is poised to receive wireless high speed internet access across the city's entire 8.6 square miles in what may be the nation's single largest WiFi (wireless fidelity) service deployment.
Aiirnet Wireless, LLC, a high-speed wireless internet service provider based in Woodland Hills, has reached an agreement with Cerritos City Hall to use city owned facilities to provide Aiirlink wireless community broadband services to Cerritos residents as well as to Cerritos City Hall itself.
As described in a November 24 memo from Cerritos City Manager Art Gallucci to Cerritos City Councilmembers, Aiirnet Wireless, LLC will install low-frequency radio transmitters throughout Cerritos, linked to the Internet through wired connections located in Cerritos, La Mirada and possibly Artesia.
In a phased roll-out scheduled to begin in January 2004, Aiirnet will deploy the latest in 802.11/Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) high speed internet access letting those with computers (home or laptop) equipped with a relatively inexpensive card access the internet via a high speed "over the air" connection...not tethered to phone lines or a cable modem.
City Manager Gallucci's memo indicates the Aiirnet Wireless high speed connection should be comparable to DSL or cable modems.
Cerritos, with a population of roughly 54,200, does not have citywide access for DSL or cable modem broadband...and Aiirnet says in a written release that its "over the air" broadband Internet service "will be marketed to residents and businesses in Cerritos as a high-speed alternative to dial-up Internet, with the added advantage of being thoroughly wireless and available in all outdoor areas throughout the city."
Aiirnet said its pricing for the service "will be comparable to wireline broadband access alternatives with a variety of service plans."
In a company release, Aiirnet Wireless CEO Stan Hirschman said that when Aiirnet's wireless service in Cerritos goes live January 1st, "every outdoor square inch of the city will be a wireless Internet access point. We’ll also be adding additional transmitters to allow individual neighborhoods to receive in-house wireless broadband that also seamlessly interoperates with the rest of the outdoor Cerritos hot zone."
Cerritos City Hall will become an Aiirnet customer...using the service to provide wireless broadband access to city workers and available for a variety of public safety initiatives.
A memo to Cerritos Councilmembers from Cerritos City Manager Art Gallucci explains in pertinent part:
Aiirnet would use a variety of facilities to deploy its distributed wireless mesh micro-cell network. These facilities would include the City's traffic intersection safety lights, City building rooftops, and ball field light poles at City parks. Pending agreements with the appropriate individuals, companies and organizations, Aiirnet would also utilize streetlights, school district buildings, commercial buildings and residences. Some 20 micro-cell radios per square mile could be required to provide ubiquitous indoor and outdoor coverage...In larger office buildings, coverage indoors might require indoor network equipment to fill coverage holes or provide additional capacity in areas with higher user density.
Aiirnet's business plan is to serve the residential market with a Wi-Fi based form of broadband access that will serve as an alternative to DSL. The Aiirnet Community Broadband service would be unique because it would also be portable, and may be used anywhere in the community. Aiirnet would also offer its service to businesses, the City, public utility companies and public safety agencies.
A wide range of computers and operating systems can be used with the Aiirnet service. Any standard Wi-Fi (80211.b or 802.11g) device may be used to connect to the Aiirnet network. These devices are available from such retailers as Best Buy and Office Max, or through on-line merchants Amazon.com or Page Computers...
Aiirnet would provide several layers of security for system users. All users of Aiirnet services would be authenticated before being permitted to connect to the network. Internet traffic would also be routed through security gateways at the edge of the Aiirnet network. The security gateways would provide firewall features to monitor and prevent unauthorized external access to the Aiirnet network. Additionally, Aiirnet would use an intrusion detection system to monitor traffic on the network and identify and respond to unauthorized attempts to access the network..
Cerritos City Manager Gallucci's memo indicates the system was been tested with the following results:
Aiirnet has conducted a beta test of its service in two areas within Cerritos. One test area is located in the southern portion of Cerritos near Coyote Creek and the border with La Palma. Verizon's DSL service is unavailable in this neighborhood. The second test area is located in a northern portion of the City near Cerritos Park East.
City staff attended a demonstration test of the service in both areas. The service connected successfully at high speeds, but did exhibit problems which are characteristic of Wi-Fi technology. As part of the test, the City Council meeting video archive was accessed through the Cerritos web site. The video stream ran smoothly at one home, but displayed a buffering effect at another home. The connection lacked the speed and consistency necessary to continuously play the video. At the third home, some buffering was detected, but the overall performance was good.
Staff also distributed a survey to the 10 Cerritos residents whose households participated in the beta test of Aiirnet's service. The respondents' replies are attached and included positive reports about the service. The beta testers described the service as excellent or good and said they were pleased to have access to a broadband service. Most respondents stated they would subscribe to the service if it became available beyond the beta test.
As for the planned schedule for rolling out of the service:
Aiirnet plans to deploy the network and offer service throughout Cerritos in phases...In Phase 1, Aiirnet would deploy the service with 80 percent coverage in outdoor public areas throughout Cerritos. Phase I would also include coverage in neighborhoods which currently do not have broadband access, including the southern beta test area. Coverage is also planned for the retail portions of the Cerritos Towne Center. In addition, Phase 1 would offer service to business customers seeking an alternative to DSL or T1 line service. Aiirnet would also accommodate the City's request for service at public facilities during this phase. Aiirnet would plan to launch the service commercially starting January 1, 2004.
Phase 2 would begin 60 days after Aiirnet launches commercial service in Cerritos. Phase 2 would incrementally expand the more dense indoor residential and business coverage on demand.
Phase 3 would begin once Aiirnet secures an agreement with Southern California Edison to attach its radio transmitters to streetlights in Cerritos. Phase 3 would provide complete citywide dense indoor coverage. Aiirnet has stated its original plan to deploy service throughout Cerritos neighborhoods has been derailed by the extremely high charges Southern California Edison is requiring for attachments to its streetlight poles. Aiirnet has indicated to the City that SCE has demanded Aiirnet pay an attachment fee that would be impossible to recover with the service fees Aiirnet plans to charge its subscribers. City staff met with SCE representatives and asked the company to reconsider its fee in the interest of providing the community with an opportunity to obtain broadband access. An SCE representative replied the company would not accommodate the City's request.
In response to a query from LBReport.com, Aiirnet publicist Rita Tennyson indicated that Phase 3 issues "are not expected to affect deployment of the system."
City Manager Gallucci's memo indicated Cerritos has been trying to get high speed internet access for years...and sought a wireless system as early as 1996 but hit high speed hurdles for citywide coverage from wired cable and phone company providers:
The City has made a sustained, long-term effort to improve the availability of high-speed Internet access in Cerritos. Staff has worked with Aiirnet to facilitate the launch of its service in Cerritos in an attempt to achieve the goal of widely available broadband service. City staff proposes allowing Aiirnet to attach radio transmitters free-of-charge to City-owned structures and traffic signal safety lights. Once the Aiirnet service is operational throughout Cerritos, the City would obtain 60 subscriptions at a cost of $34.95 per month....
As previously reported by LBReport.com, in January 2003 LB became one of the first cities in the country (and the first city west of the Rocky Mountains) to create a WiFi "Hot Zone" along a four block stretch of Pine Ave. in downtown LB, followed by another WiFi zone at LB Airport. Within these limited areas, timed access is free to users.
A LB City Hall release at the time quoted Community Development Director Melanie Fallon as saying, "If it proves popular with our visitors and business community, we are poised to extend it to other key venues within the city...[and] we may also make the service available to our citizens throughout the city." She added that LB Community Development was at the time "researching the possibility of expanding the 'Hot Zone' to include other areas of the city. Since many of the boats in Long Beach's two City-owned and operated marinas are full-time homes for some citizens, the City is investigating the feasibility of offering the service in the marinas."