08 Sep 2009   |   News   |   Update from NTNU
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The Innovation Economy: How wireless broadband is promoting innovation in Trondheim

Wireless Trondheim’s Living Lab project is a perfect example how wireless broadband can be used to stimulate innovation and drive economic growth.

Trondheim, Norway: testbed for wireless-stimulated growth

Wireless Trondheim’s Living Lab project is a perfect example how wireless broadband can be used to stimulate innovation and drive economic growth.

The mobile WiFi facility, covering the centre of the city and the campus of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), offers wireless-application developers the ability to launch and test new products and services to an established market of early adopters.

With a population of 180,000 people, Norway’s third city Trondheim is the technology capital of the country. Wireless Trondheim was spun out of NTNU with the goal of building a network that would enable developers to test new mobile services in a receptive market, and refine them based on user feedback by offering free mobile broadband to students and city residents and low-cost access to visitors.

A service that is user-centric

For the user, the attraction is that as well as being free, the service that is user-centric. NTNU’s students and the local population are keen testers and make suggestions for new mobile services they would like to see on the network. In return, users are required to supply feedback on products to service providers, thus enabling them to refine them for ‘best fit’ to user needs.

Wireless Trondheim’s network is based on some 120 access points covering the downtown area and another 1500 access points covering the university, offering mobile WiMAX service at 10 Mb/sec, with cell-handover capability at typical traffic speeds. While the organisation is a not-for-profit, operating costs are covered by payment for the service from NTNU, the city and application developers.

The network handles some 25,000 users per month, who can access the network via any standard smartphone with Wi-Fi capabilities (eg iPhone) or laptops. Most users are young people, predominantly students.

Range of pilot services

One example of the kind of services offered for free on the network is called “Friend Radar”. This service makes use of location-sensing technologies to enable registered users and their friends to see where their buddies are (within the network’s coverage area) at any time. But the service, launched on iTouch mobile devices, has had limited success because the users cannot access the service when outside of the coverage area.

Another service that has been tested is a service called Sky ID, which provides secure access  to wireless networks and supports the EU’s Data Retention Directive. This service identifies the users and based on their identity grants the user access to the network;  additionally, the system logs the traffic for the purpose of preventing abuse and detecting serious crime. Sky ID can run on top of any existing wireless network. Its customers are governmental departments and companies providing wireless networks.

The service is being commercialised by the company Sky Labs. It has been tested within Wireless Trondheim Living Lab by 100.000 users and has received considerable feedback, giving Sky Labs a competitive advantage when it enters the market with an innovative service later this year.

For more information: www.wirelesstrondheim.no

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