What is the Stevenson Wi-Fi Project?
The Stevenson Wi-Fi Project was set up to provide free, public access wireless Internet
connectivity to visitors throughout our downtown core and parks as a way of promoting tourism and increasing overnight stays in
How was it funded?
The project was built and is maintained with money from the city Tourism Promotion
What was the time frame for getting the project going?
Conceived in April 2003, funding was requested from and approved by the Stevenson
City Council in July. The first equipment was installed in September and the basic
network was operational by the end of October 2003.
Who operates the network?
The Stevenson Wi-Fi Project contracts with the City of Stevenson for ongoing administrative services, maintenance and bandwidth.
How much of the town does it cover?
Our entire downtown commercial core is covered (approximately 8x20 blocks) as well as the Skamania County
Fairgrounds and recreation area adjoining the downtown.
What technology does the Stevenson Wi-Fi Project use?
We use a system of overlapping "nodes" that intelligently route Internet traffic using the
802.11b/g protocol. These nodes are located throughout our downtown area with two of the
central nodes acting as gateways for connection to the Internet. The mesh backhaul management
software we use is Qcode, developed by Qorvus Systems (www.qorvus.net ) located in
and our local serving nodes are built by Meraki Networks.
How many nodes are used?
We currently have 23 nodes operating.
What is the coverage of each node?
Coverage varies depending on distance and terrain. Most of our nodes are at least 300
yards apart. Most are positioned on the top of buildings for best line of sight.
How much equipment is required at each node location?
Each node requires a mesh box (about the size of a home DVD player), small power
supply plugged into AC power, antenna and connecting cable.
Where does the bandwidth come from and how much do we use?
We purchase our bandwidth from a local Internet Service Provider. During a recent main
street renovation, the city installed fiber optic conduit throughout our downtown core.
The Stevenson Wi-Fi Project paid to have lit fiber pulled to our gateway in the center of
town. We also operate a second gateway located in our Port building along our
waterfront. We currently purchase 1 megabit with the option of increasing that amount as
Who can use the network?
The network was built for use by tourists and other visitors to Stevenson. Locals also use
it from time to time while in our parks and restaurants. We have the ability to monitor use
to determine if the network is being abused and can block specific computers should that
How is the network accessed?
A Wi-Fi enabled computer is a prerequisite. Once Wi-Fi enabled, connecting is quite
simple. Most users will simply click on their Internet browser where they are taken to a
login screen. By clicking on "Guest Login" the user is taken to a "Welcome to
Stevenson" page, which has links to local lodging and dining establishments. From that
page, one is free to roam the Internet at will.
Do you control the amount of bandwidth a single user has access to?
The MeshAP software allows different classes of users different amounts of bandwidth.
Our "Guest" users are supplied with approximately four times the bandwidth of a good dialup
connection. Our administrators and our webcams have access to full bandwidth that can
vary depending on how many people are on the network at one time.
How long can one user stay connected?
We have our system configured so that "Guest" users can be on the network for up to one
How secure is the network?
The internal workings of the MeshAP software are extremely secure. Data that is sent and
retrieved over the network has no built in security. We feel that is the responsibility of
each individual user.
How does the city measure benefit vs. cost?
The city of Stevenson provides this service as a promotional tool. By routing network
users directly to our web pages first, we have the opportunity to expose the user to all the
amenities and services the city offers. By developing this content and tracking the traffic
to these web sites, we will be in a better position to assess the benefit of the Wi-Fi
Project. Additionally, each mesh node could have its own entry portal that specifically
advertises the businesses within that node's coverage area. The ability to target content to
very specific geographic areas could be used to sell advertising that would offset some of
the operational expenses.
The amount of local and regional press we have received so far has been incredible. It is a
compelling story - a small municipality of 1300 people in the heart of the Columbia
River Gorge having the foresight and willingness to spend municipal funds on cutting
edge technology infrastructure necessary to attract increasingly tech savvy visitors. This
infrastructure also demonstrates to potential employers this is a community that
understands what businesses in the 21st century need to remain competitive. In the last
century, towns prospered where there was easy access to transportation. In this century,
access to information will be the key for economic development.
What other things does Stevenson use the network for?
We have a "Stevenson Downtown Webcam" attached to the mesh node located on the
roof of our county courthouse and a streaming "KiteCam" located at our East Point Launch Site. They can be seen by clicking on "Live Cams" at cityofstevenson.com. We also operate a mobile "Eventcam" that streams live video
content onto the Internet during our many community events. Visiting the same web site
and selecting "Live Event" will take one to this camera.