Wireless goes citywide in Michigan

Grand Haven, Mich., a lakefront town of about 11,000 citizens, this week flipped the switch on what it's calling the nation's first citywide WiFi network.

"We now allow anyone anywhere to connect to the Internet and roam the city and waterways in a completely secure computing environment," said Grand Haven Mayor Roger Bergman. "The service?is already enhancing the quality of life for residents and tourists and enabling the city to provide new services."

Grand Haven-based Ottawa Wireless Inc. built the network, which includes several hundred 801.11a/b/g access points strung from various parts of the city's infrastructure. The company chose Proxim Orinoco AP-4000 access points and Proxim Tsunami MP.11a wireless backhauls.

Several cities have rolled out wireless connectivity for downtown areas, but Grand Haven's network covers the city's entire six square miles.

"Grand Haven demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to provide an entire city and everyone within its limits with more affordable, easy-to-access Internet service," said Tyler van Houwelingen, chief executive officer of Ottawa Wireless and a former engineer at Intel Corp.

Grand Haven officials said hospitals and public agencies are beginning to connect to the network. Ottawa Wireless is offering virtual private networking service for secure communications.

But the network is also meant for public use. Ottawa Wireless is offering citizens unlimited access at 256kbps for $19.99 per month. The company is currently testing voice over IP service, which it expects to launch later this year for $29.99 per month.

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