(PRWEB) October 10, 2006
Winston-Salem, NC The WinstonNet Wireless Initiative committee today announced that a collaboration of Azulstar Networks, Cisco Systems and IBM was selected to build and operate the community wireless network, “Wireless Winston”, that will span the City of Winston-Salem and eventually to the outlying communities in Forsyth County. Contract negotiations will begin this month.
“As one of the nation’s most digital cities, Winston-Salem strives to be a prototype for how wireless access can improve the quality of life for a community,” said John Boehme, President of the WinstonNet Board. “Many government, academic, social and corporate institutions will use the network to offer higher levels of services to our residents and local employees. Overall, the new service will ensure a rich array of services, such as smart transportation, enhanced public safety, mobile learning, and affordable access for all.”
The Wireless Winston project plan is to offer Wi-Fi broadband Internet access to the more than 225,000 area residents, employees and visitors and is expected to eventually span all of Forsyth County.
"The great thing about Wireless Winston from a business perspective is that it offers both short- and long-term benefits for Winston-Salem," said Susan M. Ivey, chairman and chief executive officer of Reynolds American Inc. "In the near future, our Winston-Salem area employees and business partners will have access to affordable and portable internet service. Longer-term, the availability of wireless access throughout our city will enhance the community's ability to attract new business investment. That's good news for all of us."
Wireless Winston will offer this free service with built-in protection of user privacy and will include digital divide programs for economically disadvantaged users. It will also offer premium fee-based services such as wireless Voice Over IP calling and video streaming.
“This initiative is yet another example of forward thinking by WinstonNet's leaders. The initiative promises to significantly expand access to information for those less advantaged in the past. This initiative promises to set our community apart and distinguish Winston-Salem as a leader in creating new ways to open the ‘information highway’ to an entire population" said Dr. Richard Dean, President and CEO of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.
Municipal wireless access has been proven to boost public safety, increase government services and provide a level of free access to city residents and visitors. Anywhere access means that business people will be able to stay connected to their offices, tourists can check on restaurants, parking, stores and maps, and students will be able to tap into libraries and other research Web sites, regardless of their physical location. Wireless access also will increase safety and healthcare services by enabling new mobile services for first responders—fire, police, and emergency medical staff.
"As the Winston-Salem community transitions from a manufacturing-based economy to an information-based economy, Wireless Winston will support the strategic goal of bringing more high-tech manufacturing and bio-tech to the community,” said Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. “This wireless network will also play a critical role to ensure free access among all residents."
The technology relies upon small devices mounted primarily on light poles along city streets. The Azulstar, Cisco, and IBM team will begin meetings with Duke Energy to develop a mutually agreeable plan for mounting the wireless devices on the light poles. The network will be based on the latest Cisco Systems mesh wireless infrastructure technology, with a dynamic technology upgrade program to ensure long-term network vitality and scalability. IBM will provide network design and integration services, as well as innovative technology applications. Azulstar Networks will act as the network operator and provide design and engineering services as well as usability applications, such as billing and customer support systems, as it maintains the combination WiFi (802.11 a/b/g) and WiMAX (802.16) wireless network. The team intends to demonstrate the wireless network in an area of approximately 1 sq. mile of the city sometime in the next few months.
"As demonstrated by the wide-sweeping interest in this wireless network across all facets of the community, the people of Winston-Salem are clearly thinking forward about the many new ways to benefit from this public service," said Tyler van Houwelingen, chief executive officer of Azulstar Networks. "Azulstar, Cisco and IBM have defined a powerful platform for WinstonNet, and we all are on an aggressive path to make Winston-Salem a national showcase for the transforming benefits of anywhere wireless access."
WinstonNet, Inc. (http://www.winstonnet.org) is a non-profit (501c3) community technology organization incorporated in 2001. Building a connected community is the shared vision of its members with a strong emphasis placed on digital inclusion for all citizens of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Striving to be a prototype for the nation, WinstonNet is employing cutting edge technology throughout Forsyth County to set the standard for ubiquitous computing for the nation.
WinstonNet operates as a partnership between many of the major academic, government, and corporate institutions in Winston-Salem. WinstonNet members include the City of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, Forsyth Technical Community College, North Carolina School of the Arts, Salem College, Wake Forest University, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem State University.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Lynda Goff, Executive Director, WinstonNet, Inc.
Ken Gaebler, Walker Sands Communications (for Azulstar Inc.)
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