Nashville Plans Free Wireless Internet for City

free nashville wifiNashville Technology Council President Todd Fetherling has told the Nashville Post that the organization plans to implement a free wireless Internet network in downtown Nashville. The group plans on placing its first transmitter in the central business district and believes that a strong wireless signal should emanate within a 0.9 mile radius. The location of this first transmitter will be the Nashville Technology Council’s headquarters located at Third Avenue and Commerce Street.

The planned wireless network is a mesh network, sometimes called a mesh cloud, the system that most cellular companies currently use. According to Wiki, “A mesh network is reliable and offers redundancy. When one node can no longer operate, the rest of the nodes can still communicate with each other, directly or through one or more intermediate nodes.”

To start, the program will go through a month-long pilot period that will begin later this month or in early February. The launch will cost about $3,100, which covers a couple of main transmitters and a solar-powered unit that could be used for outdoor events.

Extending Nashville’s First Free Wireless Network

According to the Nashville Post, “Businesses on the outskirts of [the] coverage area then could buy smaller transmitters, or “nodes,” that would mesh with the network to extend the signal outward. Companies would connect the transmitter to their existing network and partition off as much bandwidth as they’d like to contribute to the public network, Fetherling said.

Participating Nashville businesses would be charged a one-time fee of $200 for a node to connect to the network. There is no word if future bandwidth charges would apply or how system wide maintenance or administration would be handled.

I am very excited by the thought that my laptop or smart phone could potentially have access to high speed Internet anywhere I go in Nashville, but I am also worried about who would maintain this mesh network and what that would mean for reliability and future costs. I don’t want to get addicted just to have it go away…that would be like my favorite Starbucks closing on the coldest day of the year. Despite these concerns, bravo Nashville Tech Council, BRAVO!