This project has a long history of
involvement with community service organizations in Pittsburgh.
In 1997, when negotiations began to renew Pittsburgh cable television
franchise, Information Renaissance proposed the construction of
a fiber I-net. This institutional network would have been
built from fiber laid alongside of the cable company's
infrastructure, taking advantage of the low cost of installing
such infrastructure while the cable system was being rebuilt.
A coalition of nearly 100 groups were poised to make use
of the proposed network.
Info Ren's proposal was opposed by the cable company and
pushed only fitfully by negotiators for the City of Pittsburgh.
As a result, the cable franchise included some provisions for
an I-net, but lacked enforcement mechanisms adequate to assure
deployment at affordable prices.
Frustrated by the failure of the I-net proposal, Info Ren
set up 11 Mbps wireless links from the Regional Enterprise
Tower to two members of the I-net coalition. After months
of delay with the fiber project, it proved possible to have
the wireless links up and running within two weeks of the
trial project's approval.
These wireless links provided the basis for a new project, which
evolved under the name Wireless Neighborhoods. The technology
selected for the network backbone provides peak speeds of 60 Mbps,
in keeping with Info Ren's philosophy of deploying "LAN speeds
across the city." Leaf nodes are connected with 60 Mbps antennas
if they have a line of sight to the project's central location
on the WQED Tower. Subsidiary relays use lower speeds - presently
In order to meet the needs of economic development projects,
Info Ren proposed to structure Wireless Neighborhoods as a
501(c)(12) cooperative under the U.S. Tax Code. This would
enable the project to sell connections to commercial entities,
who could join the cooperative with the same status as its
non-profit members. Info Ren's cooperative project pages
describe our original vision for this project.
With guidance from the Heinz Endowments, the project's major
local funder, Wireless Neighborhoods has now been spun off as an
independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. You can visit
the Wireless Neighborhoods Web site
to see the project's current status.