SOURCE: Cisco Systems, Inc.

November 13, 2007 08:00 ET

MichTel Communications Deploys Cisco Wireless Architecture for Oakland County Initiative to Drive Broadband Adoption, Spur Economic Development

Innovative Business Model Supports Deployment's Goal to Deliver Pervasive Internet Access and Attract, Retain Businesses in Michigan

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - November 13, 2007) - In an effort to foster economic transformation and help meet the goal of providing more than 1.2 million residents and 40,000 businesses with broadband Internet access, MichTel Communications, in partnership with Michigan's Oakland County, is deploying the Cisco® (NASDAQ: CSCO) service mesh architecture to more than 61 cities and townships across the state's southeastern region.

The Wireless Oakland initiative's business model features free "baseline" connectivity services for residential and business customers (i.e. 128 kbps) supported through advertising revenue as well as for-fee services that provide faster broadband connectivity. Examples of for-fee offerings include managed broadband services, T1 backup and indoor/outdoor connectivity to small-to-medium businesses, enterprise businesses, government employees and residents. County officials initially expected only a few thousand early adopters, but more than 15,000 users have signed up for Wireless Oakland since it launched in January, with an average Internet session length of 75 minutes.

The county's "Wireless Oakland" initiative encompasses more than 910 square miles and is designed with a goal of providing free wireless Internet access to every resident, business and visitor. According to Phil Bertolini, deputy county executive and chief information officer of Oakland County, the wireless network is helping bridge a "digital divide" for residents with limited access to the Internet.

In addition, the deployment is serving as a platform for economic transformation. The state, which relies heavily on the automobile manufacturing industry, is enduring a slump that is spurring Oakland County to continue to diversify its business landscape and help ensure economic stability. The wireless deployment helps Oakland County achieve this goal by delivering greater access to information, mobility and collaboration.

"Some schoolchildren in Oakland County can access the Internet or a computer for as little as 30 minutes a week, which is grossly inadequate in today's information- and technology-driven world," Bertolini said. "Wireless deployments like Wireless Oakland present viable business opportunities, but more importantly they serve a critical need within communities to support increasingly mobile residents and businesses, and to elevate the technical knowledge of its current and future workforces. We are purposefully using this wireless network as a tool to drive economic and workforce transformation that supports our county and state's ability to strengthen the economic future."

"Our community has enthusiastically embraced broadband wireless access, and usage rates are in excess of 1 million minutes per week, which is a powerful testament to the strength of our business model and the innovative applications being deployed through Wireless Oakland," said Frank Scaramuzzino, president of MichTel. "We knew early on that in order for this municipal wireless initiative to succeed, it was paramount to start with a solid business model. Strong partners like Cisco were instrumental in the success of this deployment and in building a successful technical foundation. The county is enjoying the benefits of that foundation as we speak."

Oakland County's deployment consists of wireless mesh equipment from Cisco, including the Aironet® 1500 Series access points, switching and routing hardware and wireless networking management software.

"Wireless Oakland is an outstanding example of a successful large-scale wireless deployment with a forward-thinking business model that's being embraced by its community," said Ben Gibson, Cisco's director of mobility solutions. "Cisco is pleased to provide the wireless infrastructure behind Oakland County's important initiative to offer residents and businesses highly secure, cost-effective and scalable outdoor connectivity. Simply put, Oakland County is proving that municipal wireless can work."

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