San Jose muni Wi-Fi to offer faster speeds, advanced service

The city of San Jose, Calif., will upgrade its free Wi-Fi service in the downtown business district by mid-year using a network supplied by network vendor Ruckus Wireless and wireless integrator SmartWave Technologies.

The city's upgraded network will be capable of supporting tens of thousands of simultaneous users and hundreds of terabytes of aggregate traffic, according to Ruckus. The outdoor network will also support applications such as high-definition video, parking meters and digital parking guidance signs, video surveillance and traffic signaling. In addition, it will likely be useful in offloading mobile data traffic from congested cellular networks and will be used to backhaul data traffic to the city's data center.

The network will be based on Ruckus' Smart Wi-Fi technology, which uses miniaturized directional antenna arrays and traffic handling techniques to extend wireless signals two to four times the distance over conventional technology. High-capacity wireless coverage will extend throughout one and a half square miles in downtown San Jose.

Ruckus ZoneFlex 7762 802.11n dual-band outdoor access points will be deployed along with two ZoneDirector 3050 central controllers within the city's Network Operations Center (NOC) at City Hall.

The Wi-Fi nodes are being deployed on street lights, traffic signal poles, buildings and other points of presence and will be connected using either high-speed, multi-gigabit fiber connections or wireless mesh connections. SmartWave is also using several ZoneFlex 7731 point-to-multipoint bridges, capable of extending wireless broadband connections over several miles.

Traffic will be backhauled from select access points connected to the city's fiber-optic network that terminates at the Metropolitan Area Exchange, West (MAE West) an Internet exchange point located at the Market Post Tower.

The new network replaces an older Wi-Fi network that San Jose installed to provide free public access in downtown hotspots via an ad-supported model. The legacy Wi-Fi network was completed in 2005 but provided only sporadic coverage to a few downtown parks and other parts of the city and was not scalable or well suited to the growing number of graphic-rich mobile applications.

"Our previous Wi-Fi network was based on older technology and was simply no longer a viable infrastructure for delivering the robust, high-performance service users have come to expect within Silicon Valley," said Vijay Sammeta, the city's acting CIO.

Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless, said advances in technology have triggered a resurgence of interest in public and managed Wi-Fi services for business. "These carrier class Wi-Fi networks are becoming instrumental for offloading mobile data traffic from cellular networks and giving users a much more satisfying online experience," she said.

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