I'm a big proponent of wireless internet projects. Part of it is the geek in me, who loved playing with walkie-talkies as a kid, but I think a case can be made for free wireless internet in business areas to add this increasingly important amenity.
I've been a fan of a company called Meraki, who've created a few cheap, extremely simple wireless devices that are perfect for turning areas large and small into wireless zones.
Meraki just rolled out a $10,000 package that contains enough "repeaters" to blanket one square mile with internet connectivity. How big is our Silver Spring business district? About 2/10ths of a square mile, or 14 acres. Heck, all of WFB is a mere 2.5 square miles. Imagine blanketing the whole village for $25k.
Suffice it to say .. covering the Silver Spring business district, from Lake to Lydell would be in the $3,000 neighborhood. Peanuts, in comparison to the $3m we are spending on sewers and street-scaping on Silver Spring.
The Meraki system starts with an internet connected router that costs $150 and needs internet connectivity and electricity. The remainder of the system are these little boxes ($180) that are simply plugged in to your regular electrical outlet. (See picture)
The wireless signal goes from box to box, and is "repeated" creating a wireless mesh of connectivity.
Meraki has some case studies on their website, and I'd direct you to the one they did for Ypsilanti, Michigan an area of 270 acres. They were able to deliver internet access to all 270 acres for a grand total of $3,725.There is, of course, an ongoing cost of the ISP charge to provide bandwidth. With a system like this, I'd imagine you would need about 2 connections. Time Warner Business Class (which can be used for this purpose) has a 15 down/2 up package that costs around $60/month with a multi-year contract. That's peanuts, and plenty of bandwidth.
So .. what would this do for Silver Spring? Just ask Starbucks why they have wireless internet access. It brings in customers.
But further .. I'd think the businesses along SS themselves would appreciate the internet connection, instead of each business paying for it individually.
It's really something to think about, especially with the reasonable price tag.
Make sure you read other items:
- Why is the NY Times picking on WFB?
- WFB Scam Alert
- One less bad guy on WFB's streets!
- Silver Spring Blame Game
- Solicitors DO NEED PERMITS
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