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Free WI-Fi coming to Michigan's Washtenaw County
Posted: 23-Jan-2007 [Source: Siemens]

[Siemens Communicatiopns and ISP provier 20/20 Communications announce Michigan's "Wireless Washtenaw" project set for full-scale deployment this year offering free, basic Wi-Fi access to anyone in the county.]

Boca Raton, FL -- Siemens Communications, Inc. today announced that Internet Service Provider 20/20 Communications of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is using Siemens solutions and services on the "Wireless Washtenaw" project in Michigan's Washtenaw County. County officials developed the project to bring wireless broadband service to all areas of the county, especially to suburban and rural residents who could only access the Internet using slower-speed dialup connections. Siemens and 20/20 have already begun installing wireless infrastructure in Ann Arbor, Saline, and Manchester as part of a pilot program that county officials expect will pave the way for full-scale deployment of services in 2007.

"This pioneering effort to provide a convenient, openly mobile and secure wireless Internet experience to everyone in the community regardless of their geographic location or economic status is of great importance to Siemens," said Dana Rasmussen, President, Sales and Services, Siemens Communications Inc. "Wireless Washtenaw will improve the quality of life and support economic growth in Washtenaw County, while serving as a model for other communities to follow."

The wireless initiative will bring free, basic wireless Internet access to anyone in the county and higher-speed access for a fee. Developed and funded without the use of public tax dollars, Wireless Washtenaw was spearheaded by the Deputy Administrator of Washtenaw County, David Behen, and a consortium of local stakeholders, universities, and government representatives. "Partnering with two firms - one, 20/20 Communications, steeped in local culture and a reputation for service excellence, and the other, Siemens, a global name synonymous with technological innovation - puts our community at the forefront of creating the "new" Michigan," said Behen.

Under the terms of the Wireless Washtenaw project, Siemens and 20/20 Communications are providing a turnkey solution, with 20/20 owning and operating the network, and Siemens serving as equipment vendor, system integrator, and services provider. For the project, Siemens is providing:

* Siemens Wi-Fi Mesh radio network * Siemens Wireless Integration Platform for authentication and provisioning * Installation, design, RF engineering, and maintenance * Managed services, including service desk support, Network Operating Center (NOC) monitoring, and remote network management services

Located in southeast Michigan, Washtenaw County encompasses 720 square miles and has a total population of 347,111 people. Residents live in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and cities including Ann Arbor - home to the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

Siemens and 20/20 Communications will install a high-performance wireless mesh network, which is a powerful technology that enables openly mobile wireless network coverage in rural areas where traditional wireless services have been previously too difficult or costly to provide. The Siemens Wi-Fi mesh network provides an effective solution for delivering seamless, ubiquitous wireless roaming in cities, urban, and rural environments.

To ensure maximum performance and system availability, Siemens Communications will actively manage and monitor the health of the network around the clock throughout the year. It will provide analysis and make recommendations for enhancements to ensure ongoing success. "We at 20/20 Communications are extremely pleased to partner with Siemens on this project," said Bob Wolff, President 20/20 Communications. "Siemens' worldwide experience in mesh networks gives me complete confidence in their ability to design, build, and support the Wireless Washtenaw network."

Siemens Communications will also provide customer service/support to present a consistent, high quality end-user experience. By leveraging Siemens managed services, 20/20 Communications is minimizing the costs associated with operating and supporting the Washtenaw County regional wireless mesh network.

"Wireless Washtenaw is a thriving initiative for one important reason: community partnership," said Jeff Irwin, Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. "20/20 Communications and Siemens have helped set the standard for cooperation with their contribution to the success of this initiative."

About 20/20 Communications

20/20 Communications is one of the largest private ISPs in Michigan and the largest provider of Wireless Internet Service in Southeast Michigan. 20/20 Communications was created from a merger among Ann Arbor Wireless and local Internet service provider IC.Net. Ann Arbor Wireless was best known over the last 20 years for its five retail stores that sell business and residential Internet service, mobile phones and calling plans. IC.Net had provided Internet services, such as high-speed T1 lines, to area businesses for the past 11 years. In February 2006, 20/20 also acquired Jackson-based PCS Broadband's wireless assets and began offering and providing high-speed wireless access to its customers in Sylvan, Scio and Saline townships. For more information, visit www.2020comm.com.

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