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Another Wi-Fi City Rollout, Another Headache For Telcos

Another U.S. municipality, Madison, Wisconsin, is getting a citywide Wi-Fi rollout, this time led by a firm supplying real-time automated meter reading for the utilities industry.

In an announcement Friday, Cellnet Technology said it has begun deploying a Wi-Fi network in Madison that will serve wireless users in the city's government, consumer, and commercial sectors. Network design and deployment services are being provided by Wireless Facilities, Inc. (WFI) and the effort will be coordinated by Madison Gas and Electric, a public utility.

Wi-Fi municipality-wide solutions are being introduced in a handful of municipalities across the nation using different approaches. Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is up and running with a solution employing a network of 400 access points. Manassas, Virginia, is using a broadband over power line (PBL) approach. Generally, municipality wide Wi-Fi rollouts require the cooperation and involvement of local government officials.

"I made a commitment in 2004 to bring Wi-Fi to Madison," said Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz in a statement. "This is an important new service for Madison residents and businesses."

The Madison network will be rolled out at no cost to the city and the providers have secured initial funding from service agreements from ISPs. The initial phase of the Madison network will cover users in the downtown region of the city with plans to later cover the entire city.

Cellnet's president and CEO Mike Zito said his firm will own and operate the network.

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