As of mid-March, the Balearic island Formentera offered a special service to its inhabitants and guests. Where DSL-speed Internet was formerly available in selected areas only, it is now almost universally available due to high-speed access based on wireless LAN. The basis for this unique network is the outdoor WLAN infrastructure supplied by the networking specialists LANCOM Systems. Access to "Wifi Formentera" costs 10 Euros per month.
A little over 100,000 Euros was invested by the island's governing Consell Insular de Formentera in the very modern wireless LAN, which provides coverage to almost all of the populated areas. The first step was to set up a WLAN backbone networking various public buildings. This extended the broadband network across the whole island, covering a distance of some 19km. Using this backbone as a basis, a total of eight distributor stations provide the users with broadband coverage in so-called Wi-Fi zones available between La Savina and La Mola.
"Providing broadband coverage by WLAN is a trail-blazing approach," says Silvia Tur, Departmental Head of New Technologies on Formentera. "No other technology can provide broadband Internet over such an extensive area so quickly and so economically."
Political circles far beyond Formentera showed considerable interest in LANCOM outdoor wireless LAN solutions and their potential for closing the gaps in the DSL map economically: The German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero visited LANCOM's exhibition booth at this year's CeBIT to inform themselves at firsthand about successful projects and the possibilities offered by this technology.
The network was planned and implemented by the Spanish LANCOM Solution Partner Segura Duran Assessors S.A. The wireless backbone system consists of 7 outdoor WLAN access points based on the 300-Mbps WLAN standard 802.11n (LANCOM OAP-310agn), which are interconnected via 5-GHz point-to-point links. The wireless bridge links are based on specialised dual-polarization antennas transmitting 2 parallel data streams to achieve a very high net data throughput of up to 100 Mbps.
Each distributor station consists of 3 to 5 OAP-310agn outdoor access points with specialised sector or omni-directional antennas. The resulting Wi-Fi zones provide high-speed Internet access in areas with a radius of up to 2 kilometers. Also operating with high-speed 802.11n WLAN, these units transmit in the 2.4-GHz band for reasons of compatibility. The users can work with standard wireless LAN routers, access points, or WLAN-equipped laptops.