My Little Corner of the Net

Wide-Area WiFi Comes to Rochester

Driving through town earlier today I noticed a new box on one of the traffic lights near my house. The box, mounted on above the road, had three antennae coming out of it. As I continued to drive I noticed these boxes on several traffic lights in the city as well as one on a telephone pole near the intersection of South Clinton and Westfall Roads.

After a bit of research I confirmed my suspicions that these boxes are, in fact, WiFi transceivers. Evidently (though the information is difficult to find), Frontier Telephone, in connection with Monroe County and the City of Rochester has rolled out an urban WiFi network. Information is surprisingly spotty, but according to these maps (all PDFs) [Rochester], [Greece], [Pittsford]) found on News 10 NBC‘s site, the network covers most of downtown and the “trendy” areas of the city (Park/East/Monroe, South Wedge), a chunk of Greece around Long Pond Road roughly stretching from Elmgrove to Mt. Read and from Ridge Road to Latta Road, and in the Monroe/Clover/French Road section of Pittsford as well as the village.

Free access is available downtown, at Pittsford Plaza, The Mall at Greece Ridge, and Ridgemont Plaza, and in much of the Village of Pittsford according to the maps. In other areas users can purchase prepaid access “cards” online for time in 1 hour, 1 day, 7 day, or 30 day blocks of continuous access time for as little as $1 a day. Existing Frontier High-Speed Internet customers can add the Wireless service to their existing service for about $10/month.

Despite the potential impact this project could have, prior to the research I did to write this post I have seen nothing about it other than speculation and long-term guesstimates. Although the news item on the county’s website fails to include a date, the original announcement appears to have been made on February 12th. At that time Channel 10 reported that the system was already functional in Pittsford and Greece and that the Rochester system should be available “within days.” Frontier apparently sunk $3 million into the project so far, and Maggie hopes to continue working with Frontier and the local municipalities to expand the service to include all Monroe County residents. As of this post the Frontier Citywide Wireless Internet site lists the airport as the only access point in New York state.

I’m curious about the service now. How’s the speed and security? If anyone has used it, let me know.

1 Comment to Wide-Area WiFi Comes to Rochester

  1. Mark Judd's Gravatar Mark Judd
    04/12/2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    So here is my analysis, 4 years after it was originally installed in my neighborhood.
    1) My house is just on the fringe of one of the wifi boxes. They are mounted on the telephone poles in the neighborhood, about every 200 yards. EXCEPT for the poles near my house. So if they came down my street, I would have a much stronger signal, but for some reason, out of all the streets in the neighborhood with telephone poles in their front yards, they left my street alone.
    2) At the time I had frontier dsl service. I paid the $10 extra to have the wifi included with my dsl service.
    3) The frontier wifi service seemed slow, at least slower than I would expect it to be given it had direct access to the fiber optic backbone of Monroe County’s internet system, and after all, I was used to dsl service, which was slow to begin with.
    4) I connect my laptop to the system, then I proceeded to connect our desktop to the wifi system and I received an error message. I called frontier, and they informed me that only one device could be connected to their wifi system at a time. This seemed extremely short sighted, I mean, just in my home alone I must have at least 10 devices connect to my own wifi network, from my printer, to my iPhone to my TVs DVRs to Game Consoles, everything has a wifi connection!
    5) The next day I packed up my DSL box, shipped it back to Frontier and ordered Time Warner’s Road Runner service.

    I have been a happy Road Runner customer ever since, but I keep waiting for something better to come along. Always looking for something of higher speed and lower price. But for now, Road Runner is it. If the speed gets high enough, I won’t even need cable tv service, I could possibly get everything from the net… that is if the Broadcast companies would stream it across the network that is…

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