Colubris Networks has been selected to provide equipment for Europe’s largest municipal Wi-Fi project, in Paris.

Colubris was chosen by a consortium consisting of networking equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent and SFR, a French mobile operator, to supply Wi-Fi equipment for the Paris Wi-Fi network. The indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi network covers municipal areas, including parks, squares, town halls, libraries and museums. Financial details of the deal were not released.

The service began operating on 16 July, with free wireless high speed Internet access services for Parisians and visitors via Colubris access points distributed throughout 100 city sites. At the end of September the Paris Wi-Fi project was officially launched, with 225 public sites covered and serviced by 315 access points. By the end of October, full coverage of the 260 municipal areas (400 access points) is expected.

The US Wi-Fi vendor is best known for its public hotspot equipment, and Colubris has previously deployed its technology for Wi-Fi projects in the city of Luzern (Switzerland), Singapore, the subways of Hong Kong, and the automated metro line from Charles de Gaulle airport. It has also partnered with engineering group Alstom to provide wireless networks and services on Alstom’s trains throughout Europe.

“Being associated with an ambitious and innovative project such as Paris, Wi-Fi is particularly rewarding and it serves as real recognition of the technical capacity and operational benefits of our solution,” said Rob Scott, president and CEO, Colubris Networks. “An increasing number of municipal authorities are planning, evaluating and deploying wireless networks, which is very exciting for Colubris.”

Yet municipal Wi-Fi has had some problems in recent months, especially in the United States where a number of US cities, including San Francisco and Chicago, have pulled their municipal Wi-Fi projects.

Back in June, Colubris launched a three radio access point that can deliver wireless LAN services on two radio channels while scanning continuously for wireless security risks on the third one.

Speaking to Techworld, EMEA Sales Director Patrick Deroy explained further about the Paris project. “Two types of product were installed for this project. The first was our dual radio access points, and the second was the access controllers.”

“This allows Paris to offer two services,” he explained. “The first is an open guest service, such as in parks or museums. The network is only available when the park or museum is open. The second service is used by workers of the city when they are out and about. This network is encrypted and secure.”

“Each site has dual DSL line access for speed purposes and redundancy as well,” he added.

Regarding the setbacks for muni Wi-Fi in several US cities, Deroy thinks the problem could have been that they were aiming for full city-wide coverage networks. “Here in Europe, there is no requirement to cover the entire city,” he said. “Deployments in Europe are focused on specific areas of coverage, which makes it more realistic and appealing.”

Deroy cites a typical cost of a dual radio access point in the $699 region, while a controller costs $1000.