Review of Jack Ungers Summary Report
Chair Burtner began with a review of the recommendations in the Summary Report prepared by Jack Unger. Jack had earlier assisted the Technology Working Group in evaluating the proposals that vendors had submitted in response to the Technology Working Groups Statement of Work (SOW), which set forth conditions for the creation of a wireless WiFi mesh network in downtown Fullerton. Chair Burtner suggested that these recommendations be incorporated wherever possible in any contract that is prepared for the vendor that is selected to implement the wireless network. The salient portions of Jacks recommendations and the bases for them are reproduced below.
Throughput Exposures and Recommendations
Scalability is not clearly defined. The Fullerton Wireless Network SOW specifies a network designed with the capability of being able to support many additional potential users and applications and a network that must be expandable and scaleable. The actual number of desired additional users is not specified. The actual amount of desired network throughput is not specified. Use of the term scaleable without addressing throughput and number of simultaneous users can lead to significant vendor misunderstanding. A vendor could define scaleable to simply mean adding users or expanding the coverage area while being oblivious to (or accepting) the consequent throughput reduction. Unless the City addresses network throughput issues clearly and completely in the SOW, the pilot network may fail to meet the throughput expectations of the City, City agencies, City businesses, other stakeholders, and City visitors. Redefine scalability to include throughput specifications. Make clear that as additional nodes are added and coverage is extended to new areas, the Citys specified throughput requirements must continue to be met.
Redefine scalability to include throughput specifications. Make clear that as additional nodes are added and coverage is extended to new areas, the Citys specified throughput requirements must continue to be met.
Additionally, include quality-of-service (QoS) parameters that include the number of simultaneous end-users and the minimum amount of throughput available at different hop-distances from each mesh-fabric-to-Fullerton LAN connection point. Without measurable throughput requirements for both lightly-loaded and heavily-loaded network traffic conditions, it will not be possible to determine if the installed wireless network meets the requirements of the Fullerton SOW.
A two-frequency-band wireless architecture is not specified. Specify a two-frequency-band wireless architecture that uses one 2.4 GHz radio for end-user-to-mesh-node communications and one (or more) 5 GHz radios for mesh-node-to-mesh-node communication (probably not feasible at this point). A two-frequency-band architecture eliminates all collisions between end-user and mesh-fabric packets and allows the network to deliver substantially more throughput than a single-band wireless network can deliver.
Dynamic 2.4 GHz-band frequency agility is not specified. Any mesh architecture that fails to use all three of the non-overlapping 2.4 GHz channels will experience severely limited throughput because all of the wireless mesh nodes will be in the same wireless collision domain. Specify a mesh network architecture that automatically segments itself into several collision sub-domains - each sub-domain using a different 2.4 GHz channel. This maximizes the chance of the network maintaining specified end-user-to-mesh-node throughput levels as interference levels and traffic loads change over time.
Interconnection points between the mesh fabric and the Fullerton wired network are not specified, nor is the available Fullerton network throughput specified. Specify the points where the mesh fabric will interconnect to the Fullerton wired network. Specify the throughput level that Fullertons wired network will make available to the wireless network at each interconnection point.
Acceptance testing standards are not specified. Specify acceptance-testing standards that include throughput under both unloaded conditions (few user/low-bandwidth applications) and loaded conditions (many users/high bandwidth applications). See the QoS recommendations under Scalability, above.
Support Exposures and Recommendations
Non-proprietary hardware is specified but only proprietary hardware is currently available. At this point in time, all mesh network vendors use proprietary hardware for mesh-node-to-mesh-node fabric connectivity. Budget for and require the selected vendor to provide near-real-time support to the Fullerton system administrator. Because mesh network standards do not yet exist, network support from other (outside) vendors will, in all likelihood, NOT be available. In the unlikely case that outside support is offered, it may be offered by either inexperienced or overpriced vendors.
End-user support needs are not addressed. Visitors and transient users may require little support; however, business users will likely require significant levels of support. Prioritize and address this ongoing support need as soon as possible. Interference from non-network sources is not addressed, yet such interference is the norm. Interference symptoms include the inability of end-users to connect, slow network throughput, and frequent end-user disconnections. Require vendors to be responsible for: conducting an interference-reduction education program in the community, locating sources of on-network and off-network interference.
Network management and monitoring capabilities are not specified. Reconfiguring the wireless network to minimize the throughput-robbing effects of interference. Require the selected vendor to design, install, and support a network management and monitoring system.
Require the network management and monitoring system to collect network performance statistics so the performance of the pilot network can be analyzed, documented, and reported. Require the vendor to train Fullerton system administration personnel in the operation and use of the network management and monitoring system.
Marketing Exposures and Recommendations
End-user throughput expectations appear to be unmanaged. Specify, evaluate, and test the network throughput capabilities. Then, based on these network capabilities, manage stakeholder/end-user expectations proactively and realistically. Provide appropriate business and end-user education to avoid throughput expectations/demand exceeding throughput availability.
Review of Contact with Vendor Referrals
Chair Burtner contacted John Grosshans, President of Aiirmesh, and learned that it would be possible to test connectivity to Aiirmeshs wireless network in the City of Cerritos. The Aiirmesh network uses Tropos 5110 radios for the mesh nodes with a Motorola Canopy wireless backhaul to the Internet. Norm Thorn and Burtner went to the Starbucks in the Cerritos Town Center where they were able to detect the signal from several Aiirmesh nodes and Starbucks T-Mobile access point using both PC and Mac laptops. Thorn readily connected to the Internet through one of the Aiirmesh access points. For an undetermined reason the Mac laptop was not able to establish connectivity to any of the access points. Burtner and Thorn then drove slowly along Cerritos streets all the while maintaining continuous connection to the Internet. During the course of the test approximately 25 access points were detected.
Chair Burtner also tried without success to obtain information from Bradley Mayer and Mike Patchen, City of Chaska, MN, regarding the performance of the Tropos mesh network that had recently been installed in that city. Difficulty in contacting City of Culver City personnel precluded evaluation of the small Firetide mesh network in that city to be reported in this meeting.
Marketing Plans for the Wireless Network
Paul Stover has volunteered to be the Technology Working Group representative to work on the marketing of the wireless network. He has met several times with Mike Ritto, President of the Fullerton Downtown Business Association and Chamber of Commerce staff to enlist their support. Paul has prepared press release material and is working with Emily Roberts to place information in the Chamber publications. It was suggested that an educational brochure be prepared that would be available in various public places and downtown businesses. The brochure would include a description of the network, the area covered, its purpose, how to access it, equipment requirements, and acceptable use policy. Because use of the network by the public will be free, customer support will not be a priority. This material will be developed in advance of the opening of the network to the public. The Working Group anticipates a test period of a few weeks immediately after the network is installed before it is announced to the public. The vendor that is selected for the installation will also assist with publicity.
Review of CDCE and Wireless Hotspot Proposals
At its meeting on June 24, 2004, the Technology Working Group (TWG) had selected CDCE and Wireless Hotspots as the two finalists for the wireless mesh project in downtown Fullerton. At its meeting on July 19, 2004, the TWG prepared a questionnaire with 17 questions that it requested be answered by the finalists by the deadline of 5:00 p.m. PDT on July 29, 2004. A copy of the questionnaire is attached to these minutes and made a part hereof. Prior to the deadline both finalists contacted Chair Burtner for additional information and in the case of CDCE a conference call was held with Mike Contois, Johnson Lew, Roger Burtner and one or more other vendor representatives. The discussion with CDCE largely concerned network throughput. The vendor expressed concern that throughput would be largely limited by the use of T1 lines for connection to the Internet. In response, the City of Fullerton indicated that it would attempt to provide T3 connectivity to the network. Both finalists met the deadline and their answers together with their original proposals were used for discussion at this meeting.
A motion was made and seconded to designate Wireless Hotspot as the finalist or preferred vendor for the implementation of the wireless network for downtown Fullerton. During discussion of the motion, it was generally agreed that Wireless Hotspot had submitted the best, most complete proposal and had made the best presentation to the TWG. However, Jack Unger, consultant to the TWG, had raised serious questions regarding technical shortcomings of the Firetide radios and associated access points and their ability to meet user expectations under more than light usage. In addition, the City of Culver City with the assistance of Wireless Hotspot is the only municipality that is using Firetide radios to create an outdoor wireless mesh throughout an urban area that will be open for public use. This network is not expected to be operational until early September. Consequently, it is difficult to obtain information regarding the performance of Firetide radios in an outdoor urban mesh. The motion failed by a vote of 3:4 with 1 abstention.
A motion was made and seconded to designate CDCE as the finalist or preferred vendor for the implementation of the wireless network for downtown Fullerton. Although the CDCE proposal and presentation were not as complete as those presented by Wireless Hotspot, the Tropos radios were considered to be superior to those in the Wireless Hotspot proposal. They emit a signal with 5X the power of most other mesh radios and are built specifically for outdoor use. Consequently, their omnidirectional antennas have the potential to emit a signal that will cover a greater area and penetrate more obstructions. Unfortunately, the Tropos radios do not operate on two frequency bands as originally thought and recommended by Jack Unger. Unlike the Firetide radios that also operate on a single frequency band, Tropos radios have been deployed successfully in several urban environments, although their performance under heavy usage is not known. The motion passed by a vote of 5:2 with 1 abstention.