Business Challenge

Madison, Wis., is a university town that offers a unique combination of urban culture, natural beauty and small-town charm. Part of the key to Madison's success is its ongoing commitment to offer superior public services and create a climate that is friendly to economic development. Technology plays a vital role in delivering services that help businesses of all sizes grow and prosper in Madison.

"The City of Madison has long prided itself on being at the forefront of available technologies, whatever they happen to be," says Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "Certainly one key to effective communication is wireless Internet access across the city."

When Madison's airport began exploring options to provide wireless Internet access to travelers, civic leaders saw an opportunity to expand the initiative and build a more complete service that could support local businesses and its 220,000 residents as well.

"The airport was looking at installing Wi-Fi wireless access, and they were going to use a standard vendor who only offered it at that location," says County Board Chairman Scott McDonell. "We thought that was a wasted opportunity--we believed it should also work downtown at the hotel, at a coffee shop and in people's homes."

"Mayor Cieslewicz encouraged us to look into wireless technology for implementation in Madison," says Dick Grasmick, information services director. "We wanted to let our mobile workers connect to the Internet and our city network. We have police and fire departments, as well as building inspectors, streets people and health professionals, who set up clinics at various locations. Enabling them to connect to the tools they need to do their job would provide a tremendous advantage in productivity."

Madison developed a request for proposal to create a wireless network that would serve Madison and its neighboring communities. The network would have to be widely accessible throughout the city, and offer security to protect users' data and communications. It would have to integrate smoothly with the city's existing network, yet be able to expand easily as part of a steady growth plan.

Network Solution

After evaluating a number of vendors, Madison partnered with Cellnet Technology Inc., a leading provider of real-time fixed network and advanced metering infrastructure solutions to the utility industry. Cellnet agreed to install the network at no cost to the city and would earn revenue from service agreements with Internet service providers (ISPs). Cellnet, a Cisco