Visitors to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor can now use a free wireless Internet service. The completion of phase one of the Inner Harbor Wi-Fi Project enables Baltimore residents and tourists visiting the Inner Harbor to access free Wi-Fi service along the tourist attraction’s promenade.

Baltimore owns and operates a fiber backbone, but the fiber would not reach every Wi-Fi access point in the harbor, and disrupting operations in the harbor to lay more fiber was neither feasible nor economical. The city wanted to provide visitors with easy Internet access, but because of the location’s historic landmark status, it was important that the communications network be unobtrusive.

The project relies on 60-gigahertz radios from Paramus, N.J.-based Siklu to transport the communications traffic. Siklu’s EtherHaul-600T was selected not only for its ability to provide gigabit throughput to support peak Wi-Fi usage by tourists and local visitors, but also for its unobtrusive profile. The product’s operation is interference-free. Units can be installed in close proximity if needed. The system keeps operating costs low by operating over unlicensed spectrum.

“The EtherHaul is literally palm-sized. It was the smallest radio we could find that operated in the 60-gigahertz spectrum,” says Carl Peterson, network manager of Port Networks. His firm is a Baltimore-based Wi-Fi service provider that worked on the project.

Port Networks installed the entire Wi-Fi network, including the backhaul connectivity links. “Installing the EtherHaul-600T was very easy,” Peterson said. “Its small size and light weight make the physical installation simple, and aligning the link was surprisingly uncomplicated and fast.”

“Our Inner Harbor is an internationally recognized attraction, so it only makes sense that we provide residents and visitors with access to the World Wide Web,” says Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “My administration will continue to pursue twenty-first century policies that create better-connected communities.”

The second phase of the project—expected next year—will extend Internet service from the World Trade Center to the Baltimore Public Works Museum.

For more information, visit Siklu's website.

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