On Jan. 1, the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos, Calif., will become the biggest Wi-Fi hotspot in the U.S., according to wireless Internet access company Aiirnet Wireless LLC.
In the absence of complete DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable coverage, the city of Cerritos gave Aiirnet permission to use city property such as lamp posts and traffic lights to mount antennas and offer wireless broadband access to Cerritos’ 50,000 residents, as well as businesses and the city itself, Aiirnet, of Woodland Hills, California, said in a statement Tuesday.
Initially, the wireless service will be available only to outdoor users.
Today, a 1.5 square mile (4.1 square kilometer) area of Cerritos already has service. When the full service officially goes live on Jan. 1, all of the 8.6 square miles (22.3 square kilometers) of outdoor Cerritos will be covered, according to Aiirnet. Additional access points are being installed to offer indoor access, the company said.
Pricing for the service will be similar to cable and DSL service, the company said.
Wi-Fi, short for Wireless Fidelity, is the popular marketing name for compatibility-tested products that use the 802.11 standard. In Cerritos, Aiirnet will use products that support the 802.11b standard, providing up to 11M bps (bits per second) throughput for data. The network uses specialized hardware for large scale deployments from Tropos Networks Inc., Aiirnet said
Wireless networks are sprouting up in places such as hotels, conference centers, airports and universities where people on the move need wireless access. However, Wi-Fi may not be right as an alternative to wired broadband services, said Chris Kozup, a program director at research firm Meta Group Inc.
“The issue with Wi-Fi based local services is that it is impossible for somebody to guarantee that nobody is going to cause interference and thus cause degradation in service,” he said. “Wi-Fi is really not designed as a local loop service, how can you guarantee users a specific service level?”
Kozup recommends point-to-point services for wireless broadband service, where a wireless signal is beamed directly at a house or building for connectivity instead of creating shared hotspots.
Aiirnet Chief Executive Officer Stan Hirschman is confident the service will come off without a hitch.
“We fully believe Wi-Fi will do the job,” he said. The technology Aiirnet uses allows for efficient routing of traffic and quick deployment of extra radios when needed, he said.
“Nobody has done it before and nobody has had the sophisticated equipment we have now. A year ago this would not have been possible,” he said.