The University of Abertay in Dundee is to build a WiFi network, in which content is cached in nodes at the edge to give better and more localised performance.
"The students will deliver coursework over the network, and learn about building local content, but we'll also make it fun," said Antony Abell, chief executive officer of EMEA at Lastmile, the company that is providing the network.
"They'll be making a massive online multi-player game to be played in the city." The network will be available initially on the campus and in halls of residence throughout Dundee.
LastMile's network, with its emphasis on processing at the edge, is the latest version of a localised network that has been under development in the UK since 1999, but which is showing an increasing close resemblance to many of the local-content features of city Wi-Fi networks proposed by providers such as Google, where free access might be supported by local advertising.
The network nodes will hold up to 4 gigabyte of local content, allowing local businesses to promote themselves and, eventually, local government to deliver services. "Through this project, we are aiming to take the best elements of both local and online communities," said Lachlan MacKinnon, professor of information and knowledge engineering at Abertay.
The company uses technology developed with the defence industry spin-off Qinetiq, and began life under the name TIVIS, with the idea of providing road and traffic information to drivers from systems embedded in lamposts. The company re-emerged in 2004 as LastMile, with a more general brief to deliver local content from Wi-Fi networks.
The Abertay network will use more conventional base stations mounted on roofs, said Abell, "but the lamp-post systems are on their way," he promised. "We will be manufacturing and shipping the lamp-post units in volume by the end of this year."
With interest in municipal Wi-Fi riding high in the US, LastMile has launched a US subsidiary, headed by Skip Ballou, who worked for IBM for 20 years, and later worked on electronic entertainment and advertising at World Theatre, where he applied for 29 technology patents.
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