Europe, Middle East
Development and Implementation The SparkNet development project was very quick and easy to implement. The idea of a multi-operator wireless network was crystallized in April 2003. In early May that year testing took place, finally contracts were negotiated and SparkNet went live on 14.5.2003.
The concept was relatively straight forward. As opposed to creating separate WLAN networks for each University, the ICT cluster in Turku joined forces and developed a mutual network for all parties to use.
A co-operation agreement was created between University of Turku, &#Aring;bo Akademi University, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku Polytechnic, MP-MasterPlanet Ltd and ICT Turku Ltd.
Since its inception the metropolitan city of Turku and the city of Naantali have joined the network and a roaming agreement has been created with Universities in Vaasa and is now tested in Tampere and Lappeenranta.
Since the beginning of 2004 SparkNet has about 200 access points currently running in Turku, but this is just the beginning. The Metropolitan city of Turku wants to accelerate the process changing Turku into a fully fledged wireless city by acquiring a further 200 access points in the first quarter of 2004.
Most of the access points use 802.11g standard at a speed of 54 Mbps. The location of the access points creates coverage areas in the public areas in Turku Science Park and extends to other areas across Turku city. Because of the networks flexible structure all operators have the freedom of using the technology of their own choice. All parties in SparkNet co-operation have chosen Buffalo access points. These have not only been cost effective but very reliable in use, thus minimizing the maintenance costs. Some access points have been set up on the roofs of university buildings, so that students and end users living near-by can have free fast broadband wireless access at home.
Impact SparkNet is a multi-operator wireless local area network. The core of the system is Stockholm Open OpenSource multi-operator management system. Universities, cities and MP-MasterPlanet act as operators in the network taking care of users Internetconnections.
All operators take care of their own network, their own users and their own access points. This autonomy was a very important factor for the University IT-Centres maintaining their ability to develop and manage their own network independently.
In some cases there has been also a need to set up wireless point-to-point connections. This has been easy to do with Yagi Antennas creating point-to-point connections.
Because of the networks flexible structure all operators have the freedom of using the technology of their own choice. All parties in SparkNet co-operation have chosen Buffalo access points. These have not only been cost effective but very reliable in use this way minimizing the maintenance costs.
SparkNet was easy to set up:
At this point SparkNet went live: 14.5.2003
Costs were altogether under 50.000 € i.e. about 1€ per user.
All security issues were solved in a cost efficient manner in the design of SparkNet. The crux of building a network of this size and complexity is to hold all internal networks secure and avoid risk to them. This is why SparkNet has been constructed as a guest network, and located outside internal firewalls.
The network is supported and accessed through technology based on the Buffalo range of products. Buffalo was chosen because of its reliability and durability. Buffalo provides a cost effective solution to meet the needs of wireless area networks of any size or description, from the media intensive home office, to the security conscious office environment. Commenting on the new wireless network The biomedical company Faron Pharmaceuticals specialises in the international commercialisation of medical inventions by networking. According to managing CEO Markku Jalkanen SparkNet is just as significant an innovation as the shift in its time to mobile phones.
"SparkNet is an example to show the world, an example of the efficiency of Finnish mobile technology. For me the net is where I work. It sets me free to go where I like and do my work independently in the area covered by each access point. I have constant access to my work files and computer connections to my clients, and I have a very fast connection to Internet. SparkNet is currently expanding the my net connection to home and summer place also."
IT Manager Thorbjörn Andersson from City of Turku sees SparkNet as a major step in creating working efficiencies. The wireless network is not only used by employees of Turku but also by citizen's visiting the city hall or other various public premises. "In Turku you will always be connected", says Andersson.
Professor Timo Järvi from University of Turku is the director of TUCS, Turku Centre for Computer Sciences. TUCS is a joint faculty of Turku's three universities so SparkNet is a helpful tool promoting co-operation between universities.
"Now we have shown how to co-operate in wireless networks. This is the way to connect other universities in Finland as well", says professor Järvi proudly.
ICT Turku Oy / Turku Science Park
Jaakko Kuosmanen, Dir. Man.
Tel. +358 400 536 086
Matti Kiviö, Dir. Man.
Tel. +358 40 582 1390