announced today that it is working with Naxos, one of two telecommunications subsidiaries of the Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), the Independent Paris Transport Authority, in a WiFi (wireless fidelity) test of local area network points deployed in the city`s metro stations.
The project, named WIXOS (for Wi-Fi eXtensible aux Operateurs de Services), is a potential precursor to the roll out of a metropolitan area network that will be used to ensure the development of hotspots for wire-free Internet access with minimum visual and environmental impact on the French capital.
Paris has one of the densest metro systems in the world, comprising 400 stations with an average distance of just 550 metres between each one. The wireless network is supported by a Cisco Metro Ethernet switching architecture, which runs over part of the 40,000 kilometres of optic fibre cabling controlled by Telcite, RATP`s other telecommunications subsidiary. The transport authority believes it may be able to use this infrastructure to build a city-wide Wi-Fi network that could be used by French Internet service providers to offer on-the-move Web and email access to their customers. The aim is to allow both street-level and underground commuters to log onto the network whilst travelling with a laptop and/or a PC to or from work, as they would from their offices or homes, and access emails, surf the Web or pick up location-specific information such as travel news. Among others, the service is expected to be of great value to travelling business people, who could do much more work while out and about and would no longer need to return to the office to pick up messages in between meetings. The service providers Bouygues Telecom, T-Online`s Club Internet, TELE2, TLC Mobile and WIFI Spot have already all committed to participating on the platform.
“At the moment we are hoping to prove the concept with a year-long pilot restricted to a dozen locations above ground, along the Bus 38 route, which connects the Paris main line rail stations of Gare du Nord and Porte d`Orleans,” said Pierre Marteau, vice president of Naxos and Telcite. “However, if our plans take off then we will be building one of the biggest Wi-Fi networks in the world, with up to 10 access points per station on some of our largest concourses. For that, we needed to start out with reliable technology that could provide tried-and-tested wireless internet access and Gigabit-speed Metro Ethernet networking. Cisco was the obvious choice.”
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