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“Gigabit” Wi-Fi Hits the Big Apple?

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 47 seconds. Contains 359 words

Recently, I’ve been intrigued by the LinkNYC Project. It sounds like a pretty fantastic thing: Free, high-speed, Internet for everyone in New York City. They are also rolling out Hotspot 2.0 with this as well, so this peeks my interest even more. Of course, being a wireless professional, and nit-picky, there are things that beg questioning.

The first is the use of the term “Gigabit Wi-Fi”, which is brought up a multiple times in this article and interview with Engadget. Of course, the first thing to happen, when they go live, is Twitter will blow up with, “I’m using the LinkNYC Wi-Fi and I'm not getting a Gigabit! What a bunch of liars!!!”, or something to that affect. Because, no one is ever going to see those speeds, regardless of how awesome it's purported to be. 

It’s not that they don’t have the backhaul for it - they do. Fiber is being run to all the kiosk locations - with some exceptions for areas where it's not an option. But, this is the same message we get from wireless vendors that market their "Gigabit" Wi-Fi products, and as we all know - that’s not the reality for many reasons:

  • Half-Duplex requiring CSMA/CA which adds overhead and thus reduces actual throughput to ~60% of the link rate.
  • The massive number of users that will be connecting to each AP. Remember, this is a SHARED medium. "One ping, Vasili. One ping only."
  • The various device capabilities
  • Link rate for clients that vary on their distance, etc.

The other thing that concerns me is this:

I don’t get this image. That’s cleary a Ruckus AP. But, it’s upside down - isn't it? And, it’s surrounded by metal. Maybe they weren’t finished with the install? But, it looks like it’s pretty well mounted, and won't be moving anywhere.

Don't get me wrong - I'm loving this whole concept. I think it's fantastic, and would love to see this spread to other communities. I'm just wondering if there were any wireless engineers involved in the design and deployment of this endeavor. It SEEMS like that's not optimal placement for that AP - which I assume is a down-tilt omni. Is that just some meI, or am I COMPLETELY wrong?

Seriously, I'm asking!