California, Utah Work Through Municipal Broadband Projects


The cities of San Francisco and San Jose in California are working through one of the largest municipal wifi projects in the country, with Ruckus Wireless and Global Reach. In Utah, a handful of municipalities have agreed to move ahead with broadband expansion work in their own right with the aid of a project bailout from Australian finance firm Macquarie Capital Group.

The California municipal wifi project will allow residents of both San Jose and San Francisco to connect and roam the internet via a large scale city network. The project runs on Hotspot 2.0 which allows residents to connect to municipal wifi seamlessly, as though they are connecting to cellular networks.

Ruckus Wireless is providing the wifi technology for both cities. Authentication and network infrastructure are being provided by Global Reach.

The Global Reach software platform includes the AAA servers (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting), Hotspot 2.0 device detection, and landing pages with the Hotspot 2.0 token. The Hotspot 2.0 provisioning feature, developed by Global Reach, configures devices with an ‘anonymous’ credential which is used to automatically connect to any network honoring the credential and is also a component in the process used to generate the encryption keys for the secure connection.

While cities like San Jose and San Francisco enjoy municipal broadband, others are having a hard time with their networks. The Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, also known as UTOPIA, was envisioned 12 years ago as a municipal broadband project across several cities in the state. The project has faced a variety of difficulties since its inception, and a new utility fee has caused five of the original cities to backout of a bailout deal.

For the remaining six cities in the project Macquarie Capital Group a financial firm from Australia will provide capital support to the buildout. According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Macquarie and UTOPIA officials are looking for ways to contract with those cities as their parts of the existing municipal network will still need to be maintained. A study that is projected to cost nearly one million dollars is underway, the cities involved will be footing the bill for the study and residents that live in those cities may face a fee of up to $20 per month to cover the costs of the municipal network whether they use it or not.