Md. untethers Sailor

Maryland Sailor Network

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"Room to roam"

The Maryland statewide network that connects libraries, agencies and citizens is moving into the wireless world.

The Sailor Network has been in place since 1994, serving as a full intranet and Internet backbone for Maryland counties, primarily through public libraries. The state's Sailor Operations Center contracted with Business Information Group late last year to implement Alvarion Ltd.'s BreezeAccess WiMax wireless solution as the infrastructure.

Since then, eight of the state's counties have signed on to host the equipment and antennas on county-owned radio towers as fixed access points that will be used to connect to the Sailor Network. WiMax provides much greater coverage than standard wireless hot-spots, reaching up to 30 miles, compared to Wi-Fi's 300-foot limit. Several of those counties have also purchased mobile access equipment for their public safety vehicles, according to Alvarion officials.

The high quality of the mobile connection, even in forested areas, was particularly important to officials in Caroline County, Md., which has more than 100 public safety vehicles covering the county's 300 square miles, wrote Jim McCormick, technology director for the county, in a statement.

So far, more than $1 million of equipment has been installed in the eight counties, according to Alvarion officials.

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