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November 28, 2005

Macedonia gets countrywide Wi-Fi

Macedonia is the first country in the world to get a nationwide wireless network.

Macedonia, a province of the former Yugoslavia (and which is an independent state), will be the first country in the world to get a countrywide wi-fi network. Macedonia covers 9,600 square miles or 25,000 square kilometers (slightly larger than Vermont) and has two million residents.

A wireless ISP, On.Net, owns and operates the network. They claim that they will be able to connect all 2 million residents in six month, but this will be a challenge because the country is mountainous. On.Net is using Strix Systems 3630 mesh nodes to unwire the country. The Strix 3630 has six radios: three using 2.4 Ghz and three on 5 Ghz. According to Cyrus Irani of Strix, On.Net wants to bring wireless broadband to 90% of the population who live in 40 cities and the surrouding countryside. On.Net is currently deploying sixty of the Strix 3630 in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.

According to an article in Businessweek (subscription required), On.Net will charge only $18 per month, an excellent deal for Macedonians who are paying $47 to the local incumbent (same story everywhere, isn’t it?). On.Net also plans to deliver wireless VOIP services.

Cyrus Irani also says that for $18 (15 EUR) per month, On.Net plans to offer close to T1 speeds. For $12 (10 EUR), bandwidth is limited to 1 mbps downstream. The incumbent land line operator that provides ADSL for $47 per month, delivers only 384 kbps according to On.Net.