Citizens, visitors and local government workers in Bristol, England are enjoying wireless broadband services on the U.K.'s largest wireless hot zone, which is built with BelAir Networks wide-area wireless networking equipment.
Known as "StreetNet" the Bristol network has been live since November 2004. It stretches from the top of Park Street down to St. Augustine's Parade, the Watershed and some surrounding key roads, approximately three kilometres squared, and supports multiple public and municipal networks and applications. The network is built with BelAir200 Wireless Multi-service Switch Routers to provide 'always-on' access to the Internet and email and allow for council and city workers to access private networks (VPNs) while working on city streets. The network also provides wireless connectivity for CCTV, allowing cameras to be deployed around street events and for general security surveillance.
The Bristol network was conceived by Bristol City Council in partnership with Cityspace, the UK's leading provider of outdoor urban digital networks. Cityspace is a BelAir solution provider. BelAir and Cityspace recently collaborated to create "The Technology Mile, London's biggest outdoor Wi-Fi network in the London Borough of Islington.
"The Bristol Hot Zone is truly the UK's first comprehensive outdoor wireless broadband service and can also act as a showcase for cities wanting to deploy robust outdoor broadband solutions," says Marc Meyohas, Chief Executive of Cityspace. "It marks a milestone in the evolution of communication and information technology; taking it out of the restrictive office and home environments and truly integrating it into people's lives.
"BelAir was the ideal technology partner for this deployment and for our rapidly expanding UK urban digital networks. BelAir offers the most flexible design in wireless switch routers, which allows us to easily and painlessly expand our wireless network as required. In addition, the BelAir solution delivers the high bandwidth needed to handle multiple broadband applications and networks."
"With this network, Cityspace has created a perfect example of how a wireless broadband network can be delivered to meet needs of citizens and local Government," said Phil Belanger, Vice-president of Marketing for BelAir Networks. "Bristol City Council and Cityspace have demonstrated that cooperation between municipalities and service providers can be effective in delivering a metro wireless network that supports the applications required today and is flexible enough to accommodate future expansion."
The Bristol Hot Zone received the award for the 'Best Enterprise Deployment for the Public Sector' in this year's Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards which recognize leadership, excellence and innovation in the field of Wi-Fi and mobile data. The prestigious awards were presented at the U.K.'s biggest wireless show, the annual Wireless LAN Event which highlights the latest products and pioneering public access services for broadband wireless internet.
The BelAir200 units deployed in Bristol are four-radio wireless switch routers that are built specifically for outdoor deployments. Each BelAir200 includes an access radio module that uses the 2.4 GHz band to support Wi-Fi client access. The access radio and integrated antennas project Wi-Fi signals over wide areas at street level; or directly into multi-story buildings from the outside, eliminating the need for indoor access points.
Every BelAir200 can also be configured with up to three separate 5 GHz backhaul radio modules. These radios and their associated antennas are used to connect multiple BelAir systems in a wireless backhaul mesh that delivers client traffic to and from the Internet. The resulting system provides unmatched capacity, security and scalability for large-scale wireless applications.
The BelAir200 is engineered for wide-area Wi-Fi today, but the modular system design and the unique multi-radio mesh architecture can also be applied to other wireless technologies such as WiMAX and cellular. The BelAir200 is packaged in a small, environmentally-hardened enclosure designed to be mounted on light poles in parking lots or city streets, or directly on buildings.