This month’s article will focus on the CenturyTel WIFI Pilot for Steilacoom.
CenturyTel has success in providing Broadband services to cities in Washington and other states. The company recently completed fast, reliable WIFI systems in Vail, Colorado in 2006. In January 2007, CenturyTel management, IT engineers, and WIFI system architects spent several days in Steilacoom engineering a plan to be technically and economically successful. Several Steilacoom Pilot plans and coverage areas were exchanged before a final coverage area was approved. (A map of the “pilot” coverage area is included.) Here is how the system was established and will work.
CenturyTel first improved infrastructure on Fox Island to accept new microwave equipment, establish a “gateway node” and create the broadband backbone-.what you need to get to the internet. All Steilacoom WIFI internet traffic will travel via microwave to/from Fox Island.
Two more “gateways” were established: first, at the Public Safety building and, secondly, at Public Works to utilize our own internal fiber network and assist in having the very high speeds at 11 mgb to your computer and back.
CenturyTel has placed 29 access points (AP) or “extenders” from metal, cobra head light poles. An approximate coverage area for each unit of 1,500 feet was used for planning. Trees and topography could reduce this area.
CenturyTel has now activated all 29 AP’s which utilize satellite/GPS technology for individual identification and operation.
Until the first week of March, CenturyTel technicians will be testing, making adjustments to AP locations for greater coverage or speed as data determines, and finally recording initial technical baselines for proof of concept objectives.
CenturyTel has established a web page called a “splash page.” This hosted web site will be used for our Pilot as a “portal entry” and has sign-in feature, a frequently asked question (FAQ) section, phone numbers or web sites for help. This site will be the sole entry method to capture for CenturyTel user numbers, and identify system date.
Some Town areas are not covered. This was expected for the initial Pilot portion of the project. Once CenturyTel engineers review their “proof of concept objectives” and if collectively agree to move forward, the remainder of the Town will be covered.
All Town public buildings have a large map depicting the WIFI coverage areas. For those with WIFI and computer questions, the Town has coordinated with CompUSA of Tacoma to host a series of workshops/classes to demonstrate what you need to understand about computer modifications to use the WIFI system. Watch the reader boards for sign-up opportunities.
What I recommend you not do is quit/end/terminate your existing internet service/ISP during the Pilot. You will be able to use your current ISP service while you compare the CenturyTel product and speed. CenturyTel will market a package of options if you want to select their service-..remember it is all up to you!!
I ask you to use our WIFI system as a casual daily visitor or for any and all your Internet requirements as it is important to allow both the Town and CenturyTel to gain technical data and reliability information from the use. Please remember, both CenturyTel and the Town have a decision to make in April based on this Pilot.
Ron Lucas, Mayor