By Claus Hetting, CEO Wi-Fi NOW
Every self-respecting city wants a city Wi-Fi network – but how exactly do you go about getting city Wi-Fi right? The answer to that complex question can now be found in a just-release report called the ‘Public Wi-Fi Supercluster Blueprint’.
The report is the result of a US-wide collaboration between cities called ‘Global City Teams Challenge’ headed up by wireless veteran David Witkowski of Joint Venture Silicon Valley as editor. The report is an indispensable ‘how to’ guide for cities and other organisations with city Wi-Fi ambitions.
Cities should be anchor tenants
The report maps out possible solutions to a wide swath of challenges including funding, choosing the right technology, legal issues, and procurement.
“There is a wide variety of ways of going about building City Wi-Fi networks. But in general the most successful networks rely on the city itself being an anchor tenant – meaning main user – of the network, like in the case of San Jose City Wi-Fi,” says David Witkowski.
Common authentication & roaming is key
Another key finding in the report is the need for a single authentication system with a consistent user experience, preferably across multiple city Wi-Fi networks. “Ideally this would mean that users can log on City Wi-Fi networks with the same credentials even when they travel between cities, and even connect to them automatically,” says David Witkowski.
He also believes that cities across the US could wield significant leverage with standardisation bodies and tech vendors if they teamed up. “Cities could and probably should help in pushing Wi-Fi technology in the right direction, making it more effective for cities,” David Witkowski says.
Will Europe heed this advice?
The report – which is packed with very useful advice – is fortuitously timed as Europe is about to embark on its first concerted city Wi-Fi effort. The WiFi4EU project is on schedule to award a total of €120M in CAPEX grants to thousands of cities across Europe starting this fall. It is still unclear what mechanisms the EU intends to mandate for common authentication and roaming.
You can download the full 72-page report here – it’s comprehensive but reads like a breeze. Also don’t miss our interview with David Witkowski on Wi-Fi NOW TV about the report viewable below.