Municipal wireless network

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LinkNYC was announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 and will eventually replace the city's network of payphones. 3d Av 16 St LinkNYC station jeh.JPG
LinkNYC was announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 and will eventually replace the city's network of payphones.

A municipal wireless network is a citywide wireless network. This usually works by providing municipal broadband via Wi-Fi to large parts or all of a municipal area by deploying a wireless mesh network. The typical deployment design uses hundreds of wireless access points deployed outdoors, often on poles. The operator of the network acts as a wireless internet service provider.

Wireless network any network at least partly not connected by physical cables of any kind

A wireless network is a computer network that uses wireless data connections between network nodes.

Municipal broadband deployments are broadband Internet access services provided either fully or partially by local governments. Common connection technologies include unlicensed wireless, licensed wireless, and fiber optic cable. Although many cities previously deployed Wi-Fi based solutions, municipal fiber-to-the-home networks are becoming more prominent because of increased demand for modern audio and video applications, which are increasing bandwidth requirements by 40% per year.

Wi-Fi wireless local area networks technology based on IEEEs 802.11 standards

Wi-Fi is a family of radio technologies commonly used for wireless local area networking (WLAN) of devices. It is based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards. Wi‑Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which restricts the use of the term Wi-Fi Certified to products that successfully complete interoperability certification testing. The Wi-Fi Alliance includes 3Com, Aironet, Harris Semiconductor, Lucent, Nokia and Symbol Technologies.



A municipal Wi-Fi antenna in Minneapolis, Minnesota Metro Wireless Node.jpg
A municipal Wi-Fi antenna in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wireless security cameras on a lamp post deployed by New York City Police Department. They are connected to the municipal NYC Wireless Network (NYCWiN). NYPD Wireless Security Cameras.jpg
Wireless security cameras on a lamp post deployed by New York City Police Department. They are connected to the municipal NYC Wireless Network (NYCWiN).

Municipal wireless networks go far beyond the existing piggybacking opportunities available near public libraries and some coffee shops. The basic premise of carpeting an area with wireless service in urban centers is that it is more economical to the community to provide the service as a utility rather than to have individual households and businesses pay private firms for such a service. Such networks are capable of enhancing city management and public safety, especially when used directly by city employees in the field. They can also be a social service to those who cannot afford private high-speed services. When the network service is free and a small number of clients consume a majority of the available capacity, operating and regulating the network might prove difficult. [1]

In 2003, Verge Wireless formed an agreement with Tropos Networks to build a municipal wireless networks in the downtown area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. [2] Carlo MacDonald, the founder of Verge Wireless, suggested that it could provide cities a way to improve economic development and developers to build mobile applications that can make use of faster bandwidth. Verge Wireless built networks for Baton Rouge, New Orleans, [3] and other areas. Some applications include wireless security cameras, police mug shot software, and location-based advertising.

Tropos Networks is a wireless mesh networking company that provides hardware, embedded software and network management application software for building large scale wireless networks. These networks are used by utilities, municipalities, public safety agencies, mines and others that need to communicate with fixed and mobile assets, as well as mobile workers, in the field. The company was founded in 2000 by Narasimha Chari, Devabhaktuni "Sri" Srikrishna, Christian Dubiel and Jonathan Goldenstein. It is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. In June 2012, it was acquired by ABB Group.

In 2007, some companies with existing cell sites offered high-speed wireless services where the laptop owner purchased a PC card or adapter based on EV-DO cellular data receivers or WiMAX rather than 802.11b/g. A few high-end laptops at that time featured built-in support for these newer protocols. WiMAX is designed to implement a metropolitan area network (MAN) while 802.11 is designed to implement a wireless local area network (LAN).[ citation needed ] However, the use of cellular networks is expensive for the consumers, as they are often on limited data plans. [4]

Cell site cellular telephone site where antennae and electronic communications equipment are placed — typically on a radio mast, tower, or other raised structure — to create a cell (or adjacent cells) in a cellular network

A cell site, cell tower, or cellular base station is a cellular-enabled mobile device site where antennae and electronic communications equipment are placed—typically on a radio mast, tower, or other raised structure—to create a cell in a cellular network. The raised structure typically supports antenna and one or more sets of transmitter/receivers transceivers, digital signal processors, control electronics, a GPS receiver for timing, primary and backup electrical power sources, and sheltering.

WiMAX wireless broadband standard

WiMAX is a family of wireless broadband communication standards based on the IEEE 802.16 set of standards, which provide multiple physical layer (PHY) and Media Access Control (MAC) options.

Metropolitan area network computer network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic area or region

A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a computer network that interconnects users with computer resources in a geographic region of the size of a metropolitan area. The term MAN is applied to the interconnection of local area networks (LANs) in a city into a single larger network which may then also offer efficient connection to a wide area network. The term is also used to describe the interconnection of several local area networks in a metropolitan area through the use of point-to-point connections between them.

In the 2010s larger cities embraced the smart city concept to tackle problems such as traffic congestion, crime, encouraging economic growth, responding to the effects of climate change and improving the delivery of city services. However, by 2018 it has become clear that the private sector could not be relied upon to build up city-wide wireless networks to meet the smart city objectives of municipal governments and public utility providers. [4]

Smart city urban area that uses different types of electronic Internet of things sensors to collect data and then use these data to manage assets and resources efficiently

A Smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect data and then use these data to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that is processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, crime detection, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.

Traffic congestion condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing

Traffic congestion is a condition on transport that as use increases, and is characterised by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction between vehicles slows the speed of the traffic stream, this results in some congestion. While congestion is a possibility for any mode of transportation, this article will focus on automobile congestion on public roads.

Public utility an organization that maintains the infrastructure for a public service

A public utility company is an organization that maintains the infrastructure for a public service. Public utilities are subject to forms of public control and regulation ranging from local community-based groups to statewide government monopolies.


The construction of municipal wireless networks is a significant part of their lifetime costs. Usually, a private firm works with local government to construct a network and operate it. Financing is usually shared by both the private firm and the municipal government. Once operational, the service may be free to users via public finance or advertising, or may be a paid service. Among deployed networks, usage as measured by number of distinct users has been shown to be moderate to light. Private firms serving multiple cities sometimes maintain an account for each user, and allow the user a limited amount of mobile service in the cities covered. As of 2007 some Muni WiFi deployments are delayed as the private and public partners negotiate the business model and financing.[ citation needed ]

A local government is a form of public administration which, in a majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within a given state. The term is used to contrast with offices at state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government and also to supranational government which deals with governing institutions between states. Local governments generally act within powers delegated to them by legislation or directives of the higher level of government. In federal states, local government generally comprises the third tier of government, whereas in unitary states, local government usually occupies the second or third tier of government, often with greater powers than higher-level administrative divisions.

Corporate city-wide wireless networks

Google WiFi is entirely funded by Google. Despite a failed attempt to provide citywide WiFi through a partnership with internet service provider Earthlink in 2007, [5] the company claims that they are working to provide a wireless network for the city of San Francisco, California, although there is no specified completion date. [6] Some other projects that are still in the planning stages have pared back their planned coverage from 100% of a municipal area to only densely commercially zoned areas. One of the most ambitious planned projects is to provide wireless service throughout Silicon Valley, but the winner of the bid seems ready to request that the 40 cities involved help cover more of the cost, which has raised concerns that the project will ultimately be too slow to market to be a success. Advances in technology in 2005–2007 may allow wireless community network projects to offer a viable alternative. Such projects have an advantage in that, as they do not have to negotiate with government entities, they have no contractual obligations for coverage. A promising example is Meraki's demonstration in San Francisco, which already claims 20,000 distinct users as of October 2007.[ citation needed ]

In 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo also provided free wireless to select regions in the United States. Yahoo's free WiFi was made available for one year to the Times Square area in New York City beginning November 10, 2009. [7] [8] Microsoft made free WiFi available to select airports and hotels across the United States, in exchange for one search on the Bing search engine by the user. [9]

The City of Adelaide in South Australia in collaboration with the South Australian Government operate a meshed network "Adelaide Free WIFI. For the past five years the network attracts some 8,000 daily users as the networks popularity continues to grow despite the proliferation of 4G technology.

Criticism and externalities

A volunteer installing a "supernode" of In July 2018 had over 35,000 active nodes and about 63,000 km of wireless links. supernode installation 2.jpg
A volunteer installing a "supernode" of In July 2018 had over 35,000 active nodes and about 63,000 km of wireless links.

Municipal wireless networks face opposition from telecommunications providers, particularly in the United States, South Africa, India and the European Union. In the 2000s telecommunications providers argued that it is neither economical nor legal for municipal governments to own or operate such businesses. The dominant type of wireless networks are the private wireless local area networks (WLANs), for which individuals or businesses pay a subscription to a local carrier. [11] In 2006 the US Federal Trade Commission expressed concerns about such private-public partnerships as trending towards a franchise monopoly. [12] Within the United States, providing a municipal wireless network was not recognized as a priority. Some have argued that the benefits of public approach may exceed the costs, similar to cable television.[ citation needed ]

In the early 2010s concerns were articulated that a considerable percentage of the world population did not have access to affordable Internet access. Despite the growing digitalization of business and government services, 37 percent of the European and 22 percent of the north American population did not have affordable access to the Internet in 2009. [13] Because local governments and municipalities in rural economiess either could not fund wireless networks or did not consider it a priority, numerous communities across the world have built and funded autonomous community wireless networks (CWNs), taking advantage of the free 2.4 GHz spectrum and open source software. [11]

The former New York state politician and lobbyist Thomas M. Reynolds argues that unintended externalities are possible as a result of local governments providing Internet service to their constituents. A private service provider could choose to offer limited or no service to a region if that region's largest city opted to provide free Internet service, thus eliminating the potential customer base. The private sector receives no money from taxpayers, so there isn't competition. The lack of competition prevents other municipalities in that region from benefiting from the services of the private provider. [14] The smaller public municipalities would at the same time not benefit from the free service provided by the larger city because it is designed to be subsidized by taxpayers and not concerned about the maximization of profits. The broadband provided by the government isn't largely supported to create an income on top of the private sector not being competed with enough to make a profit. Thus, making both municipal wireless networks anticompetitive. [14]

Cities with municipal wireless service

In many cases several points or areas are covered, without blanket area coverage.





Free public WiFi in tourist areas of big cities, railway stations, airports, and governmental facilities in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Harbin, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Kunming, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Ningbo, Foshan, Dalian, Changchun, Qingdao, Yantai, Dongguan, Macau, Huangshan, Hefei, Guiyang, and Guangzhou

Nearly all cities have free WiFi coverage, hosted either by their local service carrier, or city government, all railway stations in China have free WiFi, along with all Airports.



  • Malang - Indoken Wireless offers roaming connectivity, T-Fi Beta offers connectivity on public transportation, free access at resource centers. [17]












  • Brussels - UrbiZone covers some institutions for higher education, administration buildings, and public hospitals. [31]


  • Plovdiv - free throughout the city center and some of the city's outskirts. [32]





  • Paris - free in many parks and in municipal libraries, museums, and public places. [36]


Wi-Fi sign in downtown Munich Munchen WLAN a.jpg
Wi-Fi sign in downtown Munich
  • Munich - several areas downtown
  • Stuttgart - service along the main shopping street Königstraße and a few other locations. [37]


  • Heraklion - free, city-operated network, covers major city squares and roads. [38]
  • Lagkadas - free, city-operated, covers most of the city and is expanding to cover towns in Lagkadas municipality. [39]



  • Bologna - free service in and around the historical city center. [42]
  • Comiso - free service in and around the historical city center. [43]
  • Milan - free service in and around the historical city center [44] and the Milano Malpensa airport.[ citation needed ]
  • Venice, free to residents and city users. [45]
  • Trento, free service in and around the historical city centre. [46]



  • Luxembourg — paid & free service in downtown, Central Station Hotcity and European district. [47]


  • Chişinău - two metropolitan Wi-Fi networks exist: StarNet and Orange. StarNet's paid and free coverage area includes the city's central streets and residential districts as well as parks. [48] Orange paid coverage area includes the city's mass transit areas and bus stops. [49]


  • Almere - free municipal Wi-Fi covering Downtown Almere [50]
  • Hilversum - free municipal Wi-Fi covering Downtown Hilversum [51] and the shopping area around de Gijsbrecht van Amstelstraat in the southern part of town
  • Leiden - free, community project covering city and region by Wireless Leiden [52]



  • Rzeszów - free, city-operated in participating public schools. [54]
  • Wrocław - free service by Miejski Internet, in few places. [55]


  • Brașov, Romania - free WiFi over the entire city deployed into existing 5G network by of Ireland, over 40,000 daily users at peak.
  • Roman, Romania - free, deployed by Minisoft Romania as part of MetroWireless free internet access project, [56] paid by advertisements, covers much of the city, [57] expanding to nearby villages
  • Vatra Dornei, Romania, 85% of city covered with free WiFi deployed by using free guest user and Facebook connect.





  • Moralzarzal, Spain - free for inscribed citizens, limited time for visitors. [62]
  • Madrid, Spain - free and open Wi-Fi on the municipal bus system, EMT. [63]


  • Helsingborg, Sweden - unrestricted, free and city-operated in 220 locations around the town. SSID: Helsingborg [64] Helpdesk: #freewifihbg on most social platforms.
  • Lidköping, Sweden - unrestricted, free and commercially operated. Available in town square. SSID: Lidkoping [65]
  • Örebro, Sweden - free, around Järntorget.



United Kingdom

North America


United States

In addition, a few U.S. states, such as Illinois, Iowa, and Massachusetts, offer free Wi-Fi service at welcome centers and roadside rest areas located along major Interstate highways.


  • Guadalajara, Jalisco - Free, 150 parks and municipal areas. 1 hour continuous connect and 2 hour connection time allowed per day. In operation since 2011. Installation and operation is municipal government funded. A few of the areas are provided with free electrical outlets to charge / use your device. [129]
  • Mérida, Yucatán - Free. Most major city parks and other areas. Provided by Axtel and Telmex. Usually also provide standing tables with power outlets. The parks are identified by "parque en linea" (online park) signs and branding of the utility providing the connectivity. The SSID is usually "park en linea".


Bourke St Mall Queen Victoria Market Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Melbourne Museum on platforms at CBD train stations It's also available in central Ballarat and central Bendigo.

South America



  • Stellenbosch, South Africa Free service. Town centre online since February 25, 2012. Coverage to be increased to whole town. [135]
  • Northpine, South Africa Paid. WISP and media delivery services as well as video surveillance focused on the suburb. Community social portal for information sharing, collaboration and local business partnerships. Proof of concept to be expanded to neighbouring areas.
  • Harare, Zimbabwe Available around the city on various hotspots. Provided by ZOL. 1 hour time limit, paid after.


  • Delhi, India - Delhi Government constituted a Task Force (March 2015) to provide Free Wi-Fi connectivity in Delhi. The new Task Force is a part of Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC), an advisory body of the Aam Aadmi Party government, [136] Aam Aadmi Party government decide to consult with various stakeholders to implement its pre-poll promise of providing Free Wi-Fi connectivity across the city, [137] Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asks people for suggestions for Free WiFi plan (March 2015) [138]
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh Free WiFi is now available in Dhaka Airport Road, Dhanmondi Lake Park, Selected BRTC Buses, Kamlapur Railway Station, Airport Railstation and Dhanmondi Residential Area. The Free WiFi Networks are provided by telecom operators, notably Robi and Aamra. The service is to be rolled out in full Northern Dhaka within December 2018 [139]
  • Tel Aviv Downtown and later north part as well. [140]
  • Makati, Philippines [141]
  • Mumbai, India [142]
  • NOIDA, India
  • Karachi, Pakistan [143]


North America

United States


South America

Canceled or closed

See also

Related Research Articles

Wireless community network

Wireless community networks (WCNs) or wireless community projects are organizations that take a grassroots approach to providing a viable alternative to municipal wireless networks for consumers.

Hotspot (Wi-Fi) Wi-Fi access point

A hotspot is a physical location where people may obtain Internet access, typically using Wi-Fi technology, via a wireless local area network (WLAN) using a router connected to an internet service provider.


WiBro is a wireless broadband Internet technology developed by the South Korean telecoms industry. WiBro is the South Korean service name for IEEE 802.16e international standard. By the end of 2012, the Korean Communications Commission intends to increase WiBro broadband connection speeds to 10Mbit/s, around ten times the 2009 speed, which will complement their 1Gbit/sec fibre-optic network. The WiBro networks were shut down at the end of 2018.

Fon (company) company

Fon Wireless Ltd. is a company incorporated and registered in the United Kingdom that provides wireless services. Fon was founded in Madrid, Spain, in 2006, by Martín Varsavsky where it headquarters most of its operations.

RailTel Corporation of India

RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. is a "Miniratna" enterprise of Government of India focusing on providing broadband and VPN services. RailTel was formed in September 2000 with the objective of creating nationwide broadband, telecom and multimedia network, to modernise train control operation and safety system of Indian Railways. RailTel's network passes through around 5,000 stations across the country, covering all major commercial centres.

Google WiFi

Google WiFi is a municipal wireless network deployed in Mountain View, California. It is entirely funded by Google and installed primarily on Mountain View lightposts. Google had committed to keeping the service free until 2010. The initial service was shut down by Google on May 3, 2014 at their Mountain View base, and provided a new public outdoor WiFi.

Tbaytel Canadian telecommunication company

Tbaytel, formerly the Thunder Bay Telephone Company, is a municipally-owned telecommunications company operating in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and the surrounding area. Tbaytel's services include data, voice, wireless, internet, digital TV and security.


For the French magazine, see Télérama

Wireless Toronto

Wireless Toronto is a volunteer non-profit community wireless network in Toronto. Wireless Toronto began in 2005 and has been setting up no-cost public wireless Internet access around the Greater Toronto Area and exploring ways to use Wi-Fi technology to strengthen local community and culture.

Alvarion Israeli company.

Alvarion Technologies is a global provider of autonomous wi-fi networks designed with self-organizing capabilities, and solutions for carrier wi-fi, enterprise connectivity, smart city planning, smart hospitality, connected campuses, and connected events.

Boingo Wireless

Boingo Wireless is an American company that provides mobile Internet access for wireless-enabled consumer devices. The company reports having over one million small cell networks for cellular extension services (aka distributed antenna system and Wi-Fi access that reaches more than one billion consumers annually. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

San Francisco Municipal Wireless was a canceled municipal wireless network that would have provided internet access to the city of San Francisco, California.


Wireless@SG is a wireless broadband programme developed by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore as part of its Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure initiative, being part of the nation's 10-year masterplan called Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015).


Founded in 2002, WiFiFee, LLC. is a Wi-Fi broadband internet access provider, based in Menands, New York. WiFiFee specializes in providing high-speed wireless Wi-Fi Internet access to end-users at residential communities (MDU/MTU), hotels, condominiums, resorts, RV Parks, airports and shopping malls.

City Airport Train transport company

The City Airport Train (CAT) is an airport rail link train that connects Vienna International Airport and Vienna city center in 16 minutes without intermediate stops.

Minneapolis wireless internet network

The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is covered by a citywide broadband wireless internet network, sometimes called Wireless Minneapolis. The network was first proposed in 2003, at which point only a few other cities nationwide had such systems in place. Local firm US Internet beat out EarthLink to build and operate the network, with a guaranteed ten-year, multimillion-dollar contract from the city itself as the network's anchor tenant. Construction began on the project in 2006, but encountered several delays. Most of the city was covered by the network by 2010, and USI Wireless, the subsidiary of US Internet responsible for the system, set up numerous free internet access points at public locations around Minneapolis.

Tep Wireless, branded as Tep, is a telecommunications company which provides mobile broadband for international travelers. The aim of the service is to prevent roaming fees for individuals going abroad, while keeping them connected to the Internet anywhere they go. The service is rendered via pre-paid MiFi devices, which are delivered to users before their trip or picked up at various airports. At the end of the user’s trip, the MiFi device is returned by post or dropped off at airports. Tep delivers its mobile broadband service through partnerships with global network operators, including Vodafone. The WiFi device can be ordered on the company’s website, or those of Expedia or VisitBritain.DHI Telecom acquired Tep Wireless in October 2018 and continues to operate as a subsidiary.

Nomad Digital

Nomad Digital is an Internet Protocol (IP) Connectivity provider to the transport sector. It deploys wireless broadband connections for trains, metros, trams and buses, including passenger Wi-Fi services and remote condition monitoring for on-board rail components. The company is headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom and operates globally.

CityConnect WIFI is a Municipal wireless network brand name run by Pinacl Solutions currently in operation in the cities of York, England and Aberdeen, Scotland. The concept is to turn the entire connected area into a Wireless Access Zone, with the ultimate goal of making the internet a universal service. To cover large parts of both cities, a wireless mesh network has been deployed relying the wireless WiFi signal of hundreds of routers mounted commonly to poles, lamp-posts and buildings. Pinacl works closely with City of York Council and the City of Aberdeen Council and as such, Pinacl acts as a wireless internet service provider.


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