Kendall Wi-Fi by the numbers
December 7, 2016
Phil Johnson
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A Kendall WiFi access point
A Kendall Wi-Fi access point in Kendall Square. Photo: Phil Johnson

If you're in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge and looking for Internet access, you'll notice a new Wi-Fi network available to you, named KendallWiFi.

KendallWiFi is now open for business!

KendallWiFi is the result of a collaboration between Google, MIT, the City of Cambridge, and Boston Properties to bring a free, outdoor Internet service to the Kendall Square area and several nearby neighborhoods.

MIT's Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) department played a central role in the design and build-out of the network. It was no small task, which required more than three years of work and collaboration between numerous parties. The result is a commercial-grade Wi-Fi network that's free of charge to all who use it.

"We're really proud of what we built here and we think it's going to perform really well," said MIT IS&T's Director of Infrastructure Operations Marco Gomes.

Here are some key numbers to demonstrate the scope of the project and IS&T's efforts to bring KendallWiFi to fruition.

1,000,000

The number of square feet currently covered by the KendallWiFi network.

MIT Kendall Wi-Fi Phase 1 implementation map

As seen in the above coverage map, the network is accessible along a swath of Main Street through the heart of Kendall Square, from Vassar to Hayward Street.

It also covers the outdoor areas of the nearby Newtowne Court and Washington Elms neighborhoods, the shaded areas on the left side of the map.

8,500 / 450

The total number of feet of fiber optic cable and underground conduit, respectively, used (so far) to build out the network.

Kendall Wi-Fi Underground Conduit and Fiber Distribution Pathways

23

The number of wireless access points currently installed to serve the new network. Since KendallWiFi was designed as an outdoor network, 22 of these access points are located outside.

However, there is one interior access point, installed in the Pisani Center, which is a community gathering place in the Washington Elms neighborhood.

The Pisani Community Center in Cambridge

As IS&T's Gomes explained, this access point was provided as a good-will gesture on behalf MIT and its partners in the KendallWifi network.

12

The number of IS&T staff members involved with the project, which included Gomes and his team of infrastructure and network engineers as well as project managers to help oversee the work. Gomes also noted that, in addition to IS&T staff, members of MIT's Department of Facilities Campus Construction team also played a key role in building out the underground conduit pathways.

IS&T user experience designers and developers were also involved, creating the KendallWiFi "splash" page that people use to connect to the network.

KendallWiFi splash page

2

The total number of phases of the KendallWiFi project. While Phase 1 has been completed, Phase 2 will add an additional 13 wireless access points (all outdoors) that will provide an additional 500,000 square feet of network coverage.

MIT Kendall Wi-Fi Phase 2 implementation map

The additional areas to be covered during Phase 2, which is slated to be complete sometime in 2018, will be north of Main Street to Broadway and east of Ames Street to the Charles River, as seen on the coverage map.

As Gomes explained, this initiative further strengthens MIT’s commitment to invest in the area, and continues to fuel the innovative spirit in Kendall Square.

"This was a unique opportunity to give back to the community by providing this free service, which should have a positive impact to the surrounding neighborhoods and green spaces," he said. "This initiative also gave us the opportunity to continue strengthening our relationships with our neighbors."

“The fiber network is a key component to this service,” Gomes added. "Once that fiber is in place, we can grow with the network demands over time, especially as protocols and bandwidth requirements change."

While the KendallWiFi project will officially end with the completion of Phase 2, the work on it will, in a sense, be ongoing. "The network is a living breathing thing, so we'll be constantly tweaking it to keep improving its performance over time," Gomes noted.

1

The number of public events that were held to formally mark the launch of the KendallWiFi network.

A celebration was held at at the Pisani Center on November 29 and was well attended by many community residents, as well as representatitves from MIT, Google and others involved in the KendallWiFi project.

A number of representatives from the project sponsors spoke at the event, including Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons.

Lots of yummy food was provided by the folks from the Mexicali Burrito Co.

Food courtesy of Mexicali Burrito

0

The number of coffee shops that had to be built to go along with the free KendallWiFi network.

Thanks to all who helped bring KendallWiFi to life. The next time you're in the Kendall Square area, give it a try!