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Mesh Networks Thrive at Historic Resorts

Firetide's most recent deployment is at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, a 900-acre spread that includes three golf courses, tennis courts, and 85,000 square feet of meeting space. For these top-end business guests, Internet access is important.

The resort has just completed a $14-million renovation, of which $175,000 was devoted to the wireless deployment. The resort used 70 Firetide HotPoint APs (2.4 GHz) and 50 Firetide HotPort mesh nodes (5 GHz backhaul) to cover the main building and outlying condo complexes.

Firetide spokesperson Ksenia Coffman says that the deployment typifies the success Firetide is seeing in the hospitality market. "We probably see more interest when we talk with established or historic properties," she says.

If the building is landmarked or historic, the owners will be unwilling or even unable to drill holes in walls to deploy wireline connectivity.

For a resort like Grand Traverse, wireless provides several additional advantages. The first advantage is time-to-market. A wireless install is much faster than running wires. Speed of install should be part of the sales pitch of every WISP.

Another advantage is that because there's no digging, the owner doesn't have to shut down buildings while they're being connected to the Internet. For the Traverse deployment, no towers needed to be built because the main building is taller than anything in the surrounding area (see image, below).

Click to view larger image of the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

Panoramic view of the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

Yet another advantage of wireless is that the project is modular. It was easy to turn on just the main building in phase one, add connectivity to the condos in phase two, and then connect the golf course and other outdoor areas in phase three.

Since the deployment is in Northern Michigan, we asked about the weather. Coffman reports that there is some rain fade, but only during torrential rains or white-out conditions. Although the Traverse deployment has not yet been through a winter, Coffman says that Firetide has another deployment in Iceland that has survived a winter and quotes the local network manager as saying, "the Firetide system is a good investment as it even worked when covered with snow during the long winter."

One major issue with every wireless deployment is backhaul. At Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, the ISP is Charter Communications and the backhaul is fiber. The availability of fiber for backhaul makes this deployment easier than others. WISPs looking at this case study will need to think long and hard about backhaul before committing to a project of a similar scale, but if they can solve this issue, they should consider Firetide for their mesh network.

Alex Goldman is Managing Editor of ISP-Planet.com. This article originally appeared at ISP-Planet.com and is re-printed with permission.