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Wi-Fi Issues 'Plague' Lompoc Project
Sketchy connectivity and low subscriber count
by Karl Bode 12:28PM Monday Apr 09 2007 Tipped by Mactron See Profile
Citywide $20 Wi-Fi launched in Lompoc, California, last year after a number of delays. The Lompoc Record reports that the $3 million system is still plagued by coverage issues, and only 281 users have signed up for service. A 2003 feasibility study stated that the city would need 4,000 customers in order to break even -- though the city says they've recently lowered rates which has helped:
"Lompoc recently reduced its WiFi utility rates from $19.95 a month to three plans: A “Hotspot plan” of $9.99 per month for unlimited, self-supported Internet access for one user as an ongoing monthly subscription or a single one-month purchase; a family plan of $15.99 per month for unlimited Internet access for up to three users at a time; and a daily plan of $4.99 for 24 hours of Internet access for one user at a time."
But they're also having to deploy bridges and hire a technician to help sort out the connectivity issues, notes the report.

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bigjimc

join:2003-04-21
Middleboro, MA

Any Wifi Geeks on Release

There are too many joke here....

Any WiFi Geeks on Prison release that could help with the issue?
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Techie714

join:2005-08-02
Anaheim, CA

1 recommendation

Who Wants It?

I could be wrong but unless your in a MAJOR tech heavy area like San Fran, or San Jose I dont think your average Joe really wants or needs this WI-FI access. Look I could be wrong on this but I think a HUGE majority of people out there still dont even know what WI-FI actually is & does. Try asking your grandma who just got a new laptop if she needs access to a hot spot when she takes the 10 minute drive to Starbucks.....She just may look at you & say whats a WI-FI?

javaMan
The Dude abides.
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-15
San Luis Obispo, CA

1 edit

Re: Who Wants It?

said by Techie714:

. . .Look I could be wrong on this but I think a HUGE majority of people out there still dont even know what WI-FI actually is & does. . .
Yes, you are wrong. We may technically be a rural area but we are by no means country bumpkins. And to the first poster, don't forget that Vandenberg Air Force base is also located in Lompoc.
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gh4456
Premium
join:2004-04-07
Beverly Hills, CA

1 recommendation

Re: Who Wants It?

Well it appears your numbers don't show it - only 200+ users. I think you may be an exception...

This is why a lot of companies are reluctant to build out like this, as it appears to be a wasted venture.

Drew11

@comcast.net

Re: Who Wants It?

I think one of the big reasons it's been a failure is that cable and DSL are already widely available in Lompoc (within the city limits at least). When most people don't have a need for "portable" internet access, why would they bother with $20 a month wi-fi that is slower and less reliable than $15 a month Verizon DSL? There are still some areas on the outskirts of town that don't have access to cable or DSL broadband that would have been better served by this type of project.
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1

Re: Who Wants It?

Easy, often wifi has higher upload than competing landline services. If its T1 backhauled its atleast 1300Kbs, if its fiber or multiple T1s or metro ethernet or powerline, there is a chance you can get upto 2000-4500kbs. Even with if your cursed with NAT, you can get some pretty good speeds on Bittorrent. One problem is, if the wifi admins monitor usage, and kick off high draining users. But its easy to abuse with fake contact info and prepaid credit cards.

Honestly I think its truly pathetic and shows the incumbants have to go if people goto muni wifi for the upload speed. And very often Muni wifi is very great upload speeds for low price. $65 for 512kbs on Time Warner is a joke, I get 1200 real world on a paid hotspot for $18 a month.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

2 recommendations

Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

Not all that long ago, there were many, many stories about how muni-WiFi was going to change the face of broadband and that the people were all going to have free access to download all their porn and free music and those evil corporations were all going to go broke.

A few cautioned that that vision was unrealistic and that any time city governments were involved, disaster was much more likely than nirvana.

Well, the stories now are starting to highlight all the problems that are occurring and that reality is much closer to the warnings than the hype.

»How’s That Plan For Widespread Wireless Going?
»Is San Francisco’s Wi-Fi A National Example?
»Complaining About Free Wi-Fi
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Ahrenl

join:2004-10-26
North Andover, MA

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

It's appropriate that your avatar is a constantly spinning image.

What is it, 70% of new business's fail? How about you give it a little time, and little bit larger of a data set, before making the blanket generalizations.. unless you truly have no interest in an un-biased analysis.

Frankly, the fact that the city is the one providing service, marks this as the aberration, since most who support Muni-networks think it should be just that, a network, which private companies compete over to provide service.

But please, go ahead and state why one small Cali suburb having trouble defames the entire paradigm.

DaSneaky1D
what's up
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join:2001-03-29
The Lou
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1 recommendation

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

He provided 3 additional failed projects. Projects that held high hopes and overly optimistic feasibility studies that have not paned out.

While the "numbers" may work, most tech/software/Web 2.0 business tank, not because 70% of all new businesses fail, but because a vast majority of people have great skills, but no business sense.

Can you provide a list of 3 successful metro wifi projects?
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Ahrenl

join:2004-10-26
North Andover, MA

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

#1 - It's not a failed project.. yet.
#2 - I'm not sure if you're agreeing with me here..
#3 - No, but I'm not saying if they're good or bad either way, I'm saying pointing at one, WHICH JUST STARTED and is having a little trouble, doesn't defame the entire idea.

The economics point towards municipal owned networks as the free market ideal. Since it's not only unsightly, but at some point infeasible, to have multiple, competing networks, localities who wish to, SHOULD build their own network, and allow private enterprise to COMPETE to offer the best service at the best prices. Weather that's Wifi, or WiMax, or FTTH, is up to each locality. I'm willing to bet no system is the ideal EVERYWHERE.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42

4 edits
quote:
He provided 3 additional failed projects.
No, actually, he listed three largely different unfinished projects and then jumped to the conclusion he wants to see as a resident political troll (and investor) who opposes municipal competition with incumbent interests.

Philly is not only a smashing success, it was recently rated one of the best performing networks in the country. St. Cloud Florida is also doing well. The Earthlink deployments (public/private) thus far have been successful. We're talking about half-built networks, so "success" or "failure" aren't really applicable yet though...

A good plan is a good plan, and a bad plan is a bad plan. You can find examples of all of them across all funding and deployment models.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

2 edits

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

said by Karl Bode:

Philly is not only a smashing success, it was recently rated one of the best performing networks in the country.
LOL. Philly has several pilot areas still starting up. Access is practically nil. Philly's rating is based on Verizon's cellphone data access capabilities and has little to do with their muni project. »www.wirelessphiladelphia.org/wir···reas.cfm
EarthLink and Wireless Philadelphia are currently wrapping-up functionality tests in this area
They aren't even done testing their hardware yet.

I have relatives in 3 areas of Philadelphia. And muni WiFi is available in none of them even though the Earthlink map shows coverage. Coverage is more like very limited hotspots in specific areas of the so-called covered areas.
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Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

quote:
Philly's rating is based on Verizon's cellphone data access capabilities and has little to do with their muni project.
You don't actually know what you're talking about:

»www.novarum.com/MetroWi-FiRankings2.htm

I'm sorry your aunt or whomever can't get service. The fact is you see failure where you'd like there to be failure.

DaSneaky1D
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The Lou
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OK, granted, I called out "failed" when that statement wasn't warranted.

I do agree that there was an unfounded hope that these networks would be viable alternatives to "common" HSI services.

If Earthlink can come in and take a poor network and apply business skills needed to make them successful, then that's one thing. Most of the stories, though, are of communities and small businesses trying to do it themselves...and we're just now starting to see the results of their efforts.
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Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

quote:
I do agree that there was an unfounded hope that these networks would be viable alternatives to "common" HSI services.
Eh, they weren't born out of a desire to create alternatives. They were born out of a desire to simply have cheap access.
quote:
If Earthlink can come in and take a poor network and apply business skills needed to make them successful, then that's one thing. Most of the stories, though, are of communities and small businesses trying to do it themselves...and we're just now starting to see the results of their efforts.
Again, some plans are good, some aren't. Some projects succeed, some fail. The majority of these just launched or are still being built.

Google offers free corporate profit subsidized Wi-Fi in Mountain View, California. There have been ample complaints of coverage. Do I declare the network is a failure?
truocchio

join:2004-07-05
Miami Beach, FL

2 edits

1 recommendation

Karl,

Please...you are citing a "study" or rating from the same company that is trying to selling consulting services for muni wireless. That is just plain biased and unrealistic.

Here is a link to the St Cloud network issues that are occurring from a more reputable source.

»www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news···04/70720

Philly is a smashing success???

They are 1 or 2 years behind schedule and I havent heard any positive feedback from users to date.

»www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/d···ud_x.htm

There is no way that muni wi-fi will be the great broadband hope that many were expecting. I have been installing wi-fi systems for 5 years and I am certain it does not scale well in a muni situation. Parks, public spaces, bus and train stops maybe. But blanket coverage indoors is not realistic using the techniques that EL, Metro, and others deploying the networks are using. To do it right each and every MDU would have to be surveyed & deployed and single family homes...well they are pretty much SOL in most cases, unless they want to by high gain dual channel bridges/repeaters which only end up adding more noise to the spectrum.

I got into the business because the choices (cable and telco) were unappealing to many and I saw a market opportunity. But based on years of experience I know the limitations of the technology, and they are Significant. With the muni budget and EL, Metrofi ROI schedules there is no way they can spend the money needed to do it "right". If they had that money they might as well roll out fiber to the home and sell wholesale access.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42

3 edits

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

quote:
Please...you are citing a "study" or rating from the same company that is trying to selling consulting services for muni wireless.
Novarum sells those same services to everyone.

I don't know, a year old Wired News story and the fact Philly is behind schedule means these networks aren't successful? Philly's project sparked an entire flood of cities that use it as an example. I imagine Earthlink, Google, AT&T, Metro-Fi and many others have engineers who say it is in fact very possible.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no cheerleader for Wi-Fi necessarily. Coverage gaps are pretty common. That's not being debated. What's being debated is TCH's initial troll that suggests these systems are failures. I find the broad wishful assertions of failure made by the politically motivated and financially conflicted (Think Tanks, partisans, etc.) to be annoying....

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

said by Karl Bode:

Coverage gaps are pretty common. I'm not sure that's being debated. What's being debated is TCH's initial troll that suggests these systems are failures.
Oh, I see, any thing you don't agree with is a troll. But your personal attacks don't qualify as trolling. Just getting the facts straight.
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Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

Haven't made any personal attacks. Simply stating your initial post was a factually challenged political troll aimed at supporters of municipal broadband projects.
quote:
Just getting the facts straight.
If only that were true....
truocchio

join:2004-07-05
Miami Beach, FL
Either way they have a major stake in "showing" muni wireless is working well.

Yes it does mean they are not successful, not failed but certainly not my definition of success.

I tried to tell them on a few occasions as I meet with vendors and service people through the industry, maybe they are smarter than me or know something I don't. Or maybe they are all realizing it slowly. EL is losing customers and its leased line markets slowly and they need to do something...anything. AT&T is reluctantly getting into the game because everyone else is. Metro-Fi is starting to change their business model for new cities they are deploying due to slower than expected ROI. Google has no plans for significant rollouts of muni wi-fi. They did their campus/extended city and spent much more per square mile than EL, Metro, ATT, IBM etc and there are still significant coverage gaps and many are complaining or pointing out poor service levels.

Municipal Wi-fi can be done but, like I said, the budgets don't match the service level they are selling. If it was as easy as many though, many more would be doing it or have it done, including Google.

I am not saying they have failed...yet. I am saying they will fail over time or by the time they get completed they will be obsolete.

John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:8

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

said by truocchio:

I am not saying they have failed...yet. I am saying they will fail over time or by the time they get completed they will be obsolete.
These roll-outs will never recover the CAPEX or OPEX monies spent...and will thus be considered commercial failures.

Now as to whether these services can be operated as a muni service for the benefit of the citizenry remains to be seen, but I would guess that there will always be nickles going out and pennies coming in. If your measure of success is profitability then you may be disappointed. If the measure is something else...then you might not be.
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Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42
I think your position is fair. Time will tell. Google has talked about using PLC for in-home networking, last I heard. Not sure if complaints have improved.

My general complaint isn't over genuine healthy skepticism of the models or architecture where it's deserved. I'm largely annoyed by the broad declaration of failure being professed by PR groups like the Pacific Research Institute, who are taking money from incumbents to portray all such projects in a bad light (if you want to talk about bias).

quote:
AT&T is reluctantly getting into the game because everyone else is.
AT&T doesn't dabble in markets casually. If they believed this market wasn't profitable and doomed to implode, I just don't think they would touch it.
truocchio

join:2004-07-05
Miami Beach, FL

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

Agreed....only time will tell.

I hate those groups as well, they just muddy up the waters to keep the customer uneducated and overwhelmed with back and forth nonsense. This just buys the incumbents more time to suck the last dollars they can out of their aging systems.

Cheers
mrbueno

join:2002-08-03
US

1 recommendation

Check out the Corpus Christi WiFi network. It is a horrid failure and is built on the same tech Earthlink uses. Earthlink just bought that network as well.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:42

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

It can't really be a horrid failure, as it originally was built simply for municipal and emergency use. Have they even converted that to residential access yet? That transfer deal just happened....

batageek
Slave To The Duopoly
Premium
join:2003-01-25
how about pointing out the "government's" fault in these rollouts? Where is their contribution to the "disaster?"

DaSneaky1D
what's up
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join:2001-03-29
The Lou
Reviews:
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WiFi, while a great network topology to use, is not meant for MAN installations. At best, coverage of common space areas (parks, business lunch areas, ect) are best served in this manner.

Cellular data services and poorly/purposely openned AP's are your best alternative for wireless connectivity.

This says nothing about WISP operators. They focus their attention in a different direction than the "ubiquitous wireless city" vision these projects are hoping for...and failing at.
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marigolds
Gainfully employed, finally
Premium,MVM
join:2002-05-13
Saint Louis, MO
kudos:2
said by FFH5:

Not all that long ago, there were many, many stories about how muni-WiFi was going to change the face of broadband and that the people were all going to have free access to download all their porn and free music and those evil corporations were all going to go broke.
The difference is that the evil corporations know that broadband internet by itself is not a viable product.
You have to use internet access as an add-on product to sell something that is profitable (like phone or tv).

The problem is not the government involvement itself, the problem is the business plan is a loser from the start.
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marigolds
Gainfully employed, finally
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join:2002-05-13
Saint Louis, MO
kudos:2

Re: Rosy muni-WiFi stories getting fewer and fewer

To add to my case, take a look at municipal bundled projects, just sticking to the state I know well, Iowa:
Algona
Alta
Bellevue (about to install FTTP)
Cedar Falls
Coon Rapids
Hawardin
Lenex
Muscatine (bought out the incumbent company)
Spencer
Waterloo
Webster-Calhoun-Gowrie

There are dozens of more cable systems besides these; these are just the ones I know have successfully deployed bundled broadband services.
»www.cableyellowpages.com/US_Cabl···s_IA.htm
Nearly all of these developed since 1995.

The secret behind every last one of these ventures? None of the broadband projects by themselves make money. The money makers are the video, phone, and electric services provided in addition to the broadband services. Altatec telecom even provides water and sewer services!

Several cities are even investigating wireless now (West Des Moines and Bettendorf). Scott Community College has quad cities wide wi-fi, though access is only for students (and the fees support it pretty easily and the college owns its own spectrum, making it even easier).
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patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1

no indoor

People need to realize, that muni wifi DOES NOT have indoor coverage. USB wifi adaptor with a directional antenna is the way to go. A long usb cord with a hub (regenerate signal) is perfect, USB has no signal loss. Also people need to learn that the average Centrino or average laptop, does NOT have the transmit power to talk back to muni wifi nodes (avg is around 15-35, you need atleast 55, i prefer 150-200 mw, 200 is overkill)
Bananas9
Premium
join:2004-08-18
Santa Barbara, CA

1 recommendation

Just won't work

Here's the problem... Lompoc is about %50 Hispanic. Most of them are just trying to make ends meet. Having wireless is not an issue, something that won't make their day in and day out any better. I know Lompoc, I've lived there. The city is living in a pipe dream, too far in the future, the locals just don't have the need or the means to take advantage of wireless. There is no real city center, which is where wireless is advantageous. Lompoc consists mostly of suburbs, and cable and dsl is available. Good idea, wrong place.
cheesus

join:2002-08-16
Lompoc, CA

Re: Just won't work

I know plenty of tech savvy mexicans, that has nothing to do with it. The fact is there trying to compete with cable and dsl and that's not going to happen. I would use there service if I didn't have to log in via a website each time and my pings were at a acceptable rate for gaming. I think the city should utilize this system more for other purposes, like setup a webcam for the high school football games or so people can pay our also muni electricity bills.