Municipal WiFi: requirements for success

Double Wifi: prototype
Municipal Wifi is gaining speed. Some of the efforts are institutional (Joy Ito joins the FON advisory board, networks are being installed in San Francisco and New Orleans) and some are grassroots (John is setting up a Wifi cloud in Rio …)

I’ve looked at the models and tools of providers like FON and WifiDog/OpenWRT (any Linux), and I’ve done some testing as a provider myself. We’re not there yet.

Wifi checklist

For grass-roots municipal WiFi to really take off, we need the following:

PROVIDER CLIENT
SECURITY
– separate VLANs for internal and external PCs,
– standard firewall profiles (e.g. allow web, mail; disallow audio streaming, BitTorrent)
– accountability: some kind of authentication
– protection from other (rogue) clients
– preferably some kind of VPN (no sniffing)
– indication of connection security
BANDWIDTH
– guaranteed personal bandwidth
– traffic shaping for each connection (e.g. each PC
– guaranteed minimum bandwidth
– clear info on what is allowed (BitTorrent or not)
CONVENIENCE
– cross-platform (e.g. not Linksys only)
– wizard install (Next-Next-Finish)
– outsourced authentication (like FON)
– uptime tracking and ‘customer’ feedback – to distinguish between live, working access points and dead ones (e.g. Plazes)
– single sign-on (same password everywhere)
– easy connect, log-on and surf away
– easy detection of ‘friendly’ access points
– global coverage
– map overview of all available points (like WifiDog/Plazes)

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